Manufacturing algorithmic good behaviour?

Taxi sign

I read that Uber is now going to start punishing users with low scores by cutting them off.

Uber is now requiring the same good behavior from riders that it has long expected from its drivers. Uber riders have always had ratings, but they were never really at risk of deactivation — until now. Starting today, riders in the U.S. and Canada are now at risk of deactivation if their rating falls significantly below a city’s average.

“Respect is a two-way street, and so is accountability,” Uber Head of Safety Brand and Initiatives Kate Parker wrote in a blog post. “Drivers have long been required to meet a minimum rating threshold which can vary city to city. While we expect only a small number of riders to ultimately be impacted by ratings-based deactivations, it’s the right thing to do.”

For drivers, they face a risk of deactivation if they fall below 4.6, according to leaked documents from 2015. Though, average ratings are city-specific. Uber, however, is not disclosing the average rider rating, but says “any rider at risk of losing access will receive several notifications and opportunities to improve his or her rating,” an Uber spokesperson told TechCrunch.

This is another example of the insanity of  algorithmic telling off and the secrecy is stupid.

Airbnb telling off
Airbnb telling off for my 4.8 rating

Airbnb is still telling me off/trying to help with my score of 4.8/5 with 34 Total reviews and 76% 5 star reviews.

Mainly because I don’t accept most people into my flat. There’s no understanding about timing, workload, etc. In the algorithms view, everyone should be maximizing the amount of people using the flat. They keep trying to push auto-booking on me. I expect it will become a requirement one day and I’ll leave Airbnb as its completely unsuitable for me.

The whole idea of perfection is flawed and humans are never perfect. Sure Douglas Rushkoff has lots to say about this in #Teamhuman.

Update June 2nd

Talking of Uber, there was interesting piece in the Guardian around the same time, which could apply to Airbnb too. What is Uber? Forget the sharing economy – it’s just a libertarian scam.

 

Google apologizes again for bias results

Google once again was in hot water for its algorthim which meant looking up happy families in image search would return results of happy white famalies.

Of course the last time, Google photos classified black people as gorillas.

Some friends have been debating this and suggested it wasn’t so bad, but its clear that after a few days things were tweaked. Of course Google are one of many who rely on non-diverse training data and likely are coding their biases into the code/algorithms. Because of course getting real diverse training data is expensive and time consuming; I guess in the short term so is building a diverse team in their own eyes?

Anyway here’s what I get when searching for happy families on Friday 2nd June about 10pm BST.

logged in google search for happy families
Logged into Google account using Chrome on Ubuntu
incognito search for happy families
Using incognito mode and searching for happy families with Chrome on Ubuntu
Search for happy families using a russian tor and chromium
Search for happy families using a russian tor node on Chromium on Ubuntu

 

Sunspring: A movie written by algorithms

I don’t actually believe Adrian was the first to tell me about Sunspring, but I spent some time watching this morning.

Its certainly not the first time someone has spoke about algorithms and machine learning to create media. But its the first time I’ve actually seen something… well…ummm interesting of sorts?

I wouldn’t say it was hilarious, more weirdly uncomplete. The training material can be eviladanced in what you see but as it jumps around a lot. Its worth watching and I’d be interested in what happens when you got something more clearer and unique? However what I was really wondering is…

screenshot-2016-06-09-123615jpg

Were the camera angles, shots, special effects, music, mood and colour grading also written by the algorithms? Heck was the title? It doesn’t seem like it but who knows. I guess the bigger question is does it even matter? So much of our media is middle of the road and made for the biggest audience, in my own opionion of course. Would it make much difference?

Of course the most interesting ideas are using a combination of machine learning with human direction. But thats for another post…

The press feedback is varied…  best to go check it out for yourself

Exposing online dating lies with burritos

dating-against-humanity-46-638

It started as a April Fools’ Day Prank but it may have exposed something they never talk about online dating. The truth that the matching algorithms are actually rubbish

Almost every major dating site (including several Burrit-oh took a swipe at in a press release) touts the importance of sophisticated matching algorithms. They’re praised as the most effective way to pair people based on some “deeper” measure of interests or personality that guarantee “real” compatibility.

But Burrit-oh? Well, it’s anything but sophisticated. The algorithm is as basic as it gets, and it’s built on the flimsiest of foundations, and yet… users are still hitting it off. This supports the finding, long promoted by social scientists, that matching algorithms aren’t really science – they’re just good marketing. Behold, the unbeatable power of the burritos.

Burrit-oh, exposes the fact that once you connect people around something (burritos, beards, film tastes, journey to work, type of phone, almost anything) they find interesting (social object style). The chances they will fall for each other; birthday paradox style as much as the custom expensive algoithms. Aka those custom algorithms most of the dating sites go on about so much is bollox and what are you paying?

BBC Horizon explores how to find love online

dating-against-humanity-46-638

Its weird how things all seem to happen at once… First my TEDxManchester talk, then a chance enounter on BBC News 24 Live stream with LJ Rich, then me and Kate’s listening project recording is edited for Radio4. Now the BBC Horizon documentary about finding love online.

They were nice enough to tell us this afternoon via email, but I wasn’t sure I could blog it (nothing on their programme page or facebook page either) till I found it in the Radiotimes.

Update – The programme information page is up.

The internet has transformed every part of our lives and is now changing arguably the most important – our love lives. Internet dating is a cultural phenomenon and is now the second most common way that couples meet. But what is the best way to make the online search for love successful? What are the ‘matchmaking’ algorithms that the big companies use? Do they really deliver the goods, is it really clever marketing and actually a giant con – is there really any science?

Funny enough Mr30notsoflirty and Maren I met through the show filming (as you will find out soon, in a post I wrote straight after the filming). We were talking about the trailer on twitter, and Mr30 said he spotted, Mr30 and some other people. I watched a couple times and spotted myself! Scary stuff!

BBC Horizon dating experiment

So look out on Monday 25th April at 9pm – 10pm on BBC Two. It will be fancinating to see how its all crafted into a hour show and how much success they have in the matches compared to the Birthday paradox.

Hannah Fry the pressure is on…!

Lets change the world?

I won't change the world....

Its not unknown for me to say “Lets change the world

But Umair Haque writes about why this kind of thinking drives him up the wall.

Auughhh. Like yours, my skin crawls every time I hear it. “Changing the world” is the latest nails on the chalkboard of Modern Life…an eye-rolling platitude…a gut-churner of a buzzword…shouted daily by thousands of high-fiving business-class wannabes in chinos…the worst invention since the Company Theme Song.

Ebola? Who cares!! Dude!! We’ll call them emergency Ubers!! Climate change? Buddy, chillax!! We’ll send the flood victims tacocopters!! No life? No problem!! Everyone can have robo-friends!! They’re better than humans!! Unemployment? Let them Taskrabbit!! Who needs a career…an education…a life…when you can be a butler?!

Don’t worry, bro!! Dude!! Don’t you get it? Digitally connected superwatches will rescue us!! They’ll make us transcendent superbeings!! The Human Condition?! We’ll app our way out!! Glory be!! Hallelujah!! Sing it with me!! We’re not just here to make money, we’re…changing the world!!

I do see what he saying and his examples picking out the mentality of Uber, Taskrabbit, AirBnB and Tinder is spot on. Maybe the creative disruption these guys hide behind isn’t really creative disruption at all?

Think about it for a moment. Do you think Travis from Uber or the creepily misogynistic guys from Tinder “changed the world” more than Jonas Salk…Galileo…Einstein…Gandhi…Martin Luther King? Do you need a brain transplant…and asoul? Are you a dummy? There have always been billionaires, tycoons, hucksters. But there haven’t always been polio vaccines…cosmologies…theories of relativity…civil rights.

Those are the guys who really changed the world, and to be fair they didn’t shout creative disruption as they went about it.

Changing the world isn’t helping your bro find a date by coding an app. Changing the world isn’t feeding your frat house by building a tacocopter. Changing the world isn’t turning life into a perma frat party by making a shot that can fulfill all your daily nutritional needs.

Things that make people…butlers, chauffeurs, maids, courtesans…debtors, sharecroppers, zombies…don’t change anything. They are merely more of the same. They redeem no human suffering; enhance no human potential; spark no human accomplishment; transform no human being. They do not create anything truly worthy that might not have been otherwise. There is no greatness, nobility, goodness, justice, or truth in them. There is merely the same old ugliness, cruelty, despair, and self-deception that has always been.

I think what I took away from everything Umair wrote is the empowerment for all. Even I have been thinking a lot more about the gotchas when using Uber and even AirBnB. Everything is tied into an algorithm, how fast you reply, how slow, collecting and build reputation for you which you have no control over. Even when you decide to opt out, its a problem. This is all without even looking at the overall societal, social and humanity effect of dancing with algorithms (as I am now calling it).

Its all very good critique and quite a bit to think about next time I shout “lets change the world!

Dating, lies and algorithms the primeconf talk

The short talk I did for Primeconf is now live like most of the talks on the site. I blogged about the conference here already but its funny looking at the talk from a audience point of view. Not only because there is a 3min section which is dropped in to cover some technical problem, but also because I now notice the lack of smooth transitions between sections. Putting in the books as reference was somewhat missed too, which is a shame.

I didn’t know I was running over, as the mac timer said 6:50 mins when I finished. I certainly wouldn’t have elaborated on certain areas if I knew the time. Its always best to have a countdown clock somewhere very visible for speakers. Must remember to never trust a mac with keynote…¿

So as a whole and based on the fact it is a subset of a much deeper talk. Its not bad. It would be good to explore in more detail some of the sections and bring in some of the video evidence I have. But alas that’s for another day maybe…

Thanks again to Thayer and the prime team for the invite, the amazing venue and recording the talk. The other talks are well worth watching.

Freemium dating gone horrifically wrong

Online Dating for Bears

Lunch time at work is a interesting experience. Somehow we got into a discussion about online dating and Elizabeth asked me what kind of sites I’m on, out of curiosity. I mentioned I only do free dating sites and before you knew it we were on to a discussion about freenium dating sites vs paid sites.

The logic seems to conclude that a paid for sites would attract a better match, however in my own experience this is not true. Actually the opposite seems to apply, with the tricks the paid for dating sites pull on you. But we started wondering… If you were really evil or lack in moral judgment, what kind of things would you do?

Here’s some suggestions,

  1. Default all profiles would be ugly (there was a suggestion of green on brown with comic sans) unless you pay for colour changes and font faces changes.
    There would be a charge for every character over 320 characters (it was suggested 140 actually). Bit like plenty of fish’s extended profile.
  2. Depending on the time of the month certain words would cost less and more. Of course there would be a algorithm working out the most likely used words in profiles. But the cost would be reversed, as to charge the most for those words in their prime like selfie. Likewise Phrases go down in price depending on over use of the word across the site.
  3. There would only be allowed one photo like eBay use to have. More photos can be added at a cost of course. Oh and the one photo would be restricted to 256 colours and a size of 640×480. If you need colour, you can choose a animal photo which best represents you. One photo to impress… make it a good one.
  4. Messages can only be accessed on the site or the application. There will be strict limits of 10 meg storages and of course all messages will be monitored and fiddled with. So there will be no swearing, rude or lude content (lots of dating sites do this to kill off email and phone number exchange in messages). It would also have the right to change words and sentences to aid with communication. Well I say aid but expect all type of nonsense and mucking around.
  5. All messages will start at 200 characters maximum and grow by 10 characters based on the messages exchange. You
  6. Matching algorithms will be switch depending on paid membership. If you want the super-dooper algorithm you got to pay. And remember you have no idea how good it is till you try it out, at which you are offered the mega search for another upgrade in membership… Of course this time it includes advance options, thankfully. Okcupid already has multiple methods/algorithms for search and some are only accessible to paid members.
  7. Conditions for using the site is allowing the site to have access to your Facebook account. Not just for authentication but so it can read and write to your friends. If you want to stop the spamming, you need to pay for the yearly membership. Remember when Plaxo and many others did this to convince your friends to join?
  8. Don’t even get me started on adverts, you never seen adverts like this before, well maybe. Not only will you see them on the site, but also in your facebook timeline because you allowed us to do so, duhhh stupid…! Of course we could hijacking your cookies for even more fun, unless you pay the subscription money but that would be so… wrong!
  9. Feeling the pitch when it comes to the matches, well don’t worry most of them will be automated bots sent to lure you into paying even more or at least another few months of subscription. Hummm where did I hear this before?
  10. Of course our starred profiles will be ranked highly and you will need to digg through those before you get to the cheapskates. As a free user, you will have to do this with no sort and no option of how many users per page. Good luck with that…
  11. Did I forget to say, how our search doesn’t work correctly for free users. You will have to search through male and female users from all over the world till we can find a way to fix it. Of course paid users get access to the beta server which does support these (some people say) essential things.
  12. Random username allocation. Don’t like your username which was randomly given to you? Well if you pay the money, you can change it. Don’t pay, and you will have to put up with snugglemuffin666 or even snddjoidjidb81.

I could go on but frankly you go the picture. Some sounds a little crazy while others you may recognise from being on paid for dating sites. Free dating sites are rarer than they should be, but the freemium sites are going to be the next big thing. Don’t believe me? Look at Tinder.

Scratching at the online dating bubble

Freakonomics recently put up a podcast about online dating. I love the it the show and you know your in for a good show when someone says…

…if only everybody approached it like an economist would…

Online dating through the eyes of an economist is a very intriguing world indeed. But unfortunately not everyone does. In actual fact theres a well known phenomenon which happens when faced with love.

…being attracted to a person is a lot like being on drugs. The release of chemicals into our brain and body creates an altered mental state in which we both perceive and behave differently than we normally would..

But back to the Freakonomics podcast. The bulk of the show was dedicated to AaronCarterFan, who I have written about before.

Theres some nice juicy parts in the show including,

OYER: Okay, so as I look at what you’ve got here, well, before we even look at it we have to stop and think about the first thing an economist is going to do is think about supply and demand. So I don’t know if you realize this, but you’re in a great position. New York City is demographically more female than male. I’m not entirely sure why that’s true. Out here in San Francisco it’s the opposite. We have an oversupply of men relative to women, at least compared to other cities. New York City and Washington D.C. tend to swing much more towards more available women. So you’re in a good position from a competitive point of view. You’re providing a good, single, straight male, which is in relatively high demand. Now the other thing to keep in mind here is time is very much on your side. So you’re in a good position for two other reasons, and that is the male/female differential I just mentioned is going to swing much more in your favor over the next 10 years. So you’re under no pressure to hook up for a long-term relationship right now. So that’s one thing that’s good. The other thing is just more generally, aside from your gender, the fact that you’re 28 years old from an economist point of view means that you should be very picky. So you should be picky, you should be looking for a really good match. And the reason for that is suppose you do find just the right person, and get married and live happily ever after, well you’re in no rush to do that because you have, let’s just say 50 more years in which to enjoy the relationship you find if it’s a successful one. So when I was on the online dating market recently, you know, I’m much older than you are, and from a rational economic perspective, I should be less picky than you. I should be searching a little less carefully. I should be settling, settling is an important idea, it’s a very important idea to economists because of what we call search theory suggests that at some point you should realize that  having what you have is better than expending more resources to try to do better. And that’s more true when you’re my age, I’m 50 now, than when you’re your age, which is 28.

And the guys are right… no rush, be a picky, nothing worst that rushing into something which isn’t going anywhere.

Justin WOLFERS: The Internet has turned matching upside down. It used to be that you would find compatibility first and then learn more about someone else’s attributes. And now you see all the attributes and then you learn about compatibility later.

This is something which certainly makes things very different. I always say to people who say, its easy. Go find someone and your done. Well here’s the big difference… Attributes before Chemistry. We’re still grappling with this major shift, and to be honest I hadn’t really thought about it in these terms before. This is the internet’s effect on the way we meet. We truly do live in the age of algorithms, like it or not!

Even the likes of Speed dating, Singles party’s, etc are holding to a somewhat dying tradition?

What you want to remember in your profile is that you want to be very upfront and forthcoming in anything that is what an economist would call a coordination game. It’s where our interests are aligned and as long as we have the right information we’re going to make the right decision. So in my case I was very upfront and forthcoming in my profile about the fact that I had a large and badly behaved golden retriever, and the fact that I have two teenaged children. Because if somebody was against those things, then those were deal breakers. And in your case, you want to be honest about the fact that you’re a public radio producer because on the one hand that’s very attractive to some people, but it also indicates that you’re not going to be rich, at least in the short term. You don’t want anybody who wants you just for your money, either because you don’t like those types of people or because even if you do you’re not going to get them once they have the information anyway.

This for me is an argument why you need to be honest on your profile. Its not about attracting everyone but the right people for you. Define your dealbreakers too. Although I joke I wouldn’t date someone who shopped in Aldi, its not really a deal breaker. I would have to wonder about their taste buds when it comes to fruit and veg, but its no deal breaker. A deal breaker is someone who drinks to get drunk all the time, dabbles with hard drugs, strong right wing views, can’t think deeper than what the soaps are showing.

Of course deal breakers can change, for example a while ago a deal breaker was having a child. Not because I have anything against kids, but I just wasn’t ready for that. And I’d rather be upfront about that. Hence on my profile it says…

I have little time for the mainstream garbage of pop music/fashion/celeb driven nonsense.

I removed the sorry if that winds you up part. As I’m not sorry, it was never going to be…

The podcast or the transcript is worth a listen/read, theres some great down to earth advice for online daters and all from people who look at the hidden side of everything. Of course I’m very tempted to write them a email asking them to look at other parts of the online dating world including the crack of the dating, the 3day trial.

Perceptive Media isn’t about algorthms alone

BBC Perceptive Radio

From the Independent today… something which sounds like a episode of Black Mirror

The most cunning trick of the internet is that, with the help of some clever algorhythm-tracking piece of technology, it follows  our online behaviour and reflects  it back to us in the browsing choices it offers.

Dismayingly, radio may soon be playing the same game. A new invention called the Perceptive Radio, unveiled at the recent Thinking Digital Conference, is said to be able to respond to the kind of device listeners are using and to where they live. It will then adapt its output to include, for example, mentions of their local town, or the weather outside.

The aim, according to the team behind Perceptive Radio, is to provide “a more immersive experience” and, it almost goes without saying, to encourage diversity.

It sounds creepy to me. The very last thing I want from my radio is that it is customised to me and reflects my own world. True diversity lies in difference, not similarity.

Terence Blacker misses the fact Perceptive Media isn’t about algorithms alone. Its about giving the storyteller freedom to tell stories which make sense to the audience at the time. It also considers the space and place where the story is being told.  It doesn’t simply reflect your world back at you. I would say its a very lazy writing to do so, you also fall into the trouble of the mediabubble theory and finally how do you cover a group or audience?

Luckily Bex jumps in with a comment…

Interesting re ‘Perceptive Radio’. I was at the launch at Thinking Digital, and went to the lunchtime session as had somewhat of the impression that you give here – that it would become yet another ‘echo chamber’ – something I’m always seeking to avoid – but it seems more about intelligent reactions (e.g. volume changes if you’re singing along), and augmented information dependent upon location. I’m sure as with all other tech, can choose to enable, customise or disable..

Perceptive Media is smarter than machine algorithm alone. It empowers the scriptwritter and storyteller…

Future Everything 2013

I had the pleasure of attending Future Everything again this year. Manchester’s answer to SXSW in my own eyes. Now in its 18th year (I believe Drew said to me) its decided to move from the already packed May month to the earlier month of March. As usual theres a conference line up somewhere in the mists of the busy festival of events.

The themes this year are

These are my highlights from the ones I attended…

Future Cities…

Dave Carter

The never conventional Dave Carter is a real asset to Manchester, I can’t give the man enough credit for what he says and what he goes and does… It was great to hear his version of ask for forgiveness not permission.

Martijn de Waal did a talk titled A tale of 3 cities… social cities of tomorrow. In the talk about 3 cities in South Korea, Songdo, Homdu and Seoul City. Songdo was the perfectly designed city of the future, clean, designed and all that. Homdu is organic in its design and gives rise to some strange human made constructions. Seoul City is a responsive city with lots of systems which allow feedback and change. Its almost responsive in nature.

Rest of the talk was about the differences and how the platform of the city can best help the citizens within it. Which kind of city would people like to live in kept coming up, and generally a balance of all three seemed to be the general view.

I could hear the sharp intake of breath when Scott Cain of the TSB (Tech strategy board) made a comment about something being in London because that makes the most sense. But no one picked him up on it which seemed a missed opportunity.

Redsigning the Future

The redesigning the future talk was interesting but bugged me…  I think it bugged me for being very vague and not revealing a lot. I certainly got a lot more out of the talk with Magnus at Thinking Digital 2012. There were some stuff which was thrown out including the notion of “Super density” which I gather is the opposite of unevenly distribution. A day made of glass was mentioned a few times along with the science fiction condition and internet fridge too.

Which leads me nicely on to the after event called ideas are theft.

It sold its self outspoken, fun, spiky and dangerous but it turned into one of the biggest let downs in Future Everything history. What got me was there was some great panellists including Dave Mee, Usman Haque and Natalie Jeremijenko. All would be fun and could talk about stuff in a spiky dangerous way if the moderator would shut up, questions were any good and made sense. The 2nd half was better but to be honest the damage was done, people started talking within themselves and the guests looked pissed off. I know it was meant to be funny but it felt very amateur which isn’t what I associate with Future Everything.

On the Data Society front…

The super smart Mel Woods seems to be the person behind the interesting project I experienced called Chattr. The premise is simply to wear a microphone and have your conversation turned into a twitter transcript. You can see the transcripts if you look at the twitter bot ChattrLeaks or hashtag. There was a delay as everything was recorded then on handing the recorder back its send to the 3rd floor to be transcribed and tweeted. For me it was the balance of privacy which was super interesting. For example a conversation later with a freelancer had to be deleted because I didn’t feel comfortable with it being tweeted even though I was very careful not to repeat anything she said.

Of course when I first got the mic, I couldn’t help but spill lots of pearls of wisdom to the world…

“I would never invite someone over to my house on a first date” #chattr

— Chattr Leaks (@ChattrLeaks) March 22, 2013

The point of the project is to feel the tension between public and private. For someone like me to feel that tension, it certainly did the job well. Really got me thinking Mel, well played!

Farida Vis and Usman Haque had a session I wish I had attended from the very start. Living in an age of Algorithmic Culture is something I’m very interested in, specially in regards to big data. They digged into the idea of algorithms and are they useful to us? Farida joined the algorithm with the health of a company. Which got me thinking about something I saw where the company banned certain users from inputing more data because it was unbalancing the algorithm and causing excess processing time. Could it be possible to starve or bloat an algorithm (ultimately hack it) to slow down the processing? Farida and Usman did agree, that most startups use external processing power and yes that could if left unchecked cause excess processing and therefore money.

I’d love to dig into love in algorithms with these guys one day, but thats another blog post and maybe more soon.

API Economy

On the Creative Code front I saw a number of mini-hack events and also a good discussion about the Politics of Open Data and API Economy. Some good thinking about moving away from the big players such as Facebook and Twitter. Also talking about not just simply running to the next big player, so no running to Google plus (specially with whats happening with Google reader!)

There was a thought that the only way to run a API was to charge for it which had me reaching for the sky but there was so many questions I missed my chance. There were a number of artistic talks but none really stuck in my head or had me typing on my tablet. Bringing the archive to life with BBC’s Tony Ageh was interesting to hear where we are years later. Tony even suggested a date of finishing, which if I remember correctly was 2017? Awesome work… Except I have no idea why there was a makeie doll on the panel? Maybe only Bill Thompson knows…?

Makie

The Future Everything Summit was a good one, the venue in Piccadilly place is a lot better than MOSI and I liked the little touches like the honestly payment system for lunch and the like. I do agree with Imran that the layout and signage could do with a designers eye because it didn’t make total sense. I did like the fact hacks and bof/unconference events were happening in the spare spaces, this felt closer than years previously. I gather there was a lot of speakers who dropped out at the last moment but it all worked and it felt like a good event. You could hardly go wrong for less than 100 pounds.

Good job Future Everything, I look forward to other summits through out the year?

Welcome to Love in the Time of Algorithms

Imran sent me a link to this book titled Love in the time of algorithms which instantly I instantly liked…

Love in the time of algorithms

The description is exactly what I would write if I was to publish my own thoughts instead of talking about it and doing it. Actually this post pretty much sums up what I think the book is going to cover

“If online dating can blunt the emotional pain of separation, if adults can afford to be increasingly demanding about what they want from a relationship, the effect of online dating seems positive. But what if it’s also the case that the prospect of finding an ever more compatible mate with the click of a mouse means a future of relationship instability, a paradox of choice that keeps us chasing the illusive bunny around the dating track?”
 
It’s the mother of all search problems: how to find a spouse, a mate, a date. The escalating marriage age and declin­ing marriage rate mean we’re spending a greater portion of our lives unattached, searching for love well into our thirties and forties.
It’s no wonder that a third of America’s 90 million singles are turning to dating Web sites. Once considered the realm of the lonely and desperate, sites like eHarmony, Match, OkCupid, and Plenty of Fish have been embraced by pretty much every demographic. Thanks to the increasingly efficient algorithms that power these sites, dating has been transformed from a daunting transaction based on scarcity to one in which the possibilities are almost endless. Now anyone—young, old, straight, gay, and even married—can search for exactly what they want, connect with more people, and get more information about those people than ever before.
As journalist Dan Slater shows, online dating is changing society in more profound ways than we imagine. He explores how these new technologies, by altering our perception of what’s possible, are reconditioning our feelings about commitment and challenging the traditional paradigm of adult life.
Like the sexual revolution of the 1960s and ’70s, the digital revolution is forcing us to ask new questions about what constitutes “normal”: Why should we settle for someone who falls short of our expectations if there are thousands of other options just a click away? Can commitment thrive in a world of unlimited choice? Can chemistry really be quantified by math geeks? As one of Slater’s subjects wonders, “What’s the etiquette here?”
Blending history, psychology, and interviews with site creators and users, Slater takes readers behind the scenes of a fascinating business. Dating sites capitalize on our quest for love, but how do their creators’ ideas about profits, morality, and the nature of desire shape the virtual worlds they’ve created for us? Should we trust an industry whose revenue model benefits from our avoiding monogamy?
Documenting the untold story of the online-dating industry’s rise from ignominy to ubiquity—beginning with its early days as “computer dating” at Harvard in 1965—Slater offers a lively, entertaining, and thought provoking account of how we have, for better and worse, embraced technology in the most intimate aspect of our lives.

Its not available till Aug 15th but is available to pre-order if you so wish

I’ll be keeping an eye out for this one and hopefully if Dan does a book tour or something I can rope him into doing something in Manchester which has the 2nd biggest singles population in the UK behind London. Maybe it can be a special #smc_mcr event or maybe a return to prestonsocial with something more solid?

The obvious thing would be to do a relationships 2.0?

Its not the first time I’ve seen Dan’s name come up, he wrote this critical piece about dating algorithms. Which is one of the pieces,  which got me thinking about dating sites and are they actually doing what they claim to be doing? His articles reads similar to my own blog if you go by the titles alone. Just need Onlinedatingpost and Datinginsider for a full house? Anyone know how to contact any of these people?