Psst! Your Data's Showing

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We’ll talk to the co-founder of dating site OkCupid about human nature, love and the future of big data.

Online dating is as much a matter of online data collection as it is online matchmaking. (Don Hankins / Flickr)
Online dating is as much a matter of online data collection as it is online matchmaking. (Don Hankins / Flickr)

Every second of every day, the Internet is scooping up oceans of data about you and everyone else within its reach.  We know that, and yet when we focus on it, we often freak out.  Christian Rudder, a big thinker and co-founder of the big dating site OKCupid, says don’t panic, this is good.  Of course, he would, running a dating site.  But his claim is this:  the aggregate data on human nature flooding onto the web is now teaching us more than we have ever known about who we really are.  This hour, On Point:  human nature, revealed, in a flood of data.
- Tom Ashbrook


Christian Rudder, co-founder of online dating site OkCupid.  Author of the new book, "Dataclysm: Who We Are When We Think No One's Looking." (@christianrudder)

From Tom's Reading List

The Wall Street Journal: When Websites Peek into Private Lives -- "Online, you have friends, lovers, enemies and intense moments of truth without a thought for who's watching, because ostensibly no one is—except, of course, the computers recording it all. Once aggregated and anonymized, that data, whether from controlled tests or shared directly by users, can tell us how we live our lives."

Bloomberg Businessweek: The Science Behind the Perfect Dating Profile -- "Rudder began stumbling upon some sweeping societal observations. The turning point came in 2009 when he grouped OkCupid users by race and analyzed whom they considered attractive. (The site allows users to rate each other on a scale from one—ugly—to five—super hot.) When it came to pure sexual attraction, Rudder found that people exhibited obvious and quantifiable preferences for people who looked a certain way."

New Yorker: Make Me A Match -- "Rudder fessed up to all this because it seemed germane, in light of the controversy surrounding Facebook’s recent admission that it had tweaked news feeds to test how negative or positive news affects people—what they repost and how it travels. He promptly took a beating. One journalist called him a sociopath. Another likened OkCupid to a restaurant that had intentionally poisoned its patrons. Many people thought that it was cruel to toy with human relationships, and that it was typically arrogant of a tech executive not to recognize this."

Read An Excerpt of "Dataclysm" By Christian Rudder

This program aired on September 8, 2014.


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