Seems even at 36000ft you can’t escape?

At 36,000 feet you can't escape me?

I always knew Horizon was syndicated widely but seeing it on a plane is kind of insane. a Thanks to Claire for the very freaky tweet.

I did say in reply, its a good thing it wasn’t undressed!

I’ll have to give something to the person who happens to watch season 1 episode 9 of undressed on a plane, using the in flight system and then grabs a snap… What exactly is uncertain but I’ll think of something.

Scary stuff eh!

Another angle on the MOSI experiment

Let's Talk About Sex

I wrote this a while ago last year, to be fair just after going to the Horizon dating experiement which later appeared on BBC Two

Its been about 6 months roughly since I was involved in the MOSI experiment around speed dating. It was the most scientific thing I have done till I took part in the Horizon dating experiment (blog is written but I can’t publish till the TV show goes out – next year)

But I was wondering what was the results of the MOSI experiment? I haven’t heard anything but to be fair I did go on the date with one of the woman I met through the speed dating. She was nice and there was quite a bit of common interest but I got the feeling it wasn’t to be when we split the bill.

I was thinking while reading Jonah Berger’s Contagious, about social proof and how the experiement about the science of popularity in dating is also a experiment in social proof. But to be fair I kind of already knew this, just hadn’t explicitly thought about it that way.

social proof

So weird when you remember beauty lies with the eye of the beholder.

The BBC horizon dating experiment

Horizon dating 2015-09-12
My scientific perfect match

The Horizon episode: How to find love online just aired and here’s a blog I wrote straight after filming for the show. I have no idea what just happened or if I’ll even be involved, but judging by whats been seen so far, it looks like I might be. I trust BBC Horizon have done everybody proud but he’s my view on what happened that afternoon in central London.

I’m writing this the morning after the BBC Horizon dating experiment in central London (Sunday 13th September 2015).

We were asked and signed a contract saying we wouldn’t talk about the programme till the TX (TV transmission date). However the programme should have gone out by now.

It was an interesting time and the experiments were quite good too. From what I gather on the day, Hannah Fry wrote an algorithm to match people and Xander? I heard Xander is going on 3 dates today (day after the experiment). With the algorithm, she (Hannah) needed a large pool of people to match him with but also she wanted to see if it worked for other people. Hence the afternoon-evening of Horizon dating (I’m sure this will change).

Ok being brief (very hard for me). We were divided into 4 groups using colour wrist bands, then did some rough speed dating (I say rough because it there was no real flow, no direction and we were kind of left to get on with it, with the occasional call to change).

The four groups were…

  1. Told everybody in the group was matched and we actually were (this was my group – Yellow)
  2. Told everybody in the group was matched but that was actually was a lie
  3. Told no body in the group was matched but actually everybody was
  4. Told no body was matched and no body actually was (control group?)

You can see how this all works right?

The results were actually quite good and seemed to go with the algorithm and the priming of what were somewhat told. Hannah seemed confident it might actually work beyond this stage.

There was another test but to be honest, I got pulled away to do some stuff in a back room to the waiting camera about online dating. So much I wanted to say, but was told to keep it brief and look directly down the lens of the camera (hate that). Anyway I briefly touched on things related to my experiences and observations, should be interesting enough.

After some finger food and lots of chatting with various people, the results were announced to the room. They were cavatted with the notion, it was getting most matches in the room rather than most ideal matches.

Regardless, our usernames were read out and we stuck our hands up to show pairings.

My match was a woman who I had speed dated earlier but thought we didn’t really get on because of my lack of knowledge about the smiths. Can I remember her username? Nope, but we did take a couple selfie on both our phones.

After the matching, were had the opportunity to spend time together just chatting away and some quick interviews from Zander and Hannah.

Weirdly enough, my match lived in Bristol, had lived less than a mile away about the same time I lived in Croydon, London and shared similar views on certain things. Of course the location stuff  is a coincidence, as there was nothing in the questionnaire about previous locations, etc. But interesting one regardless.

We chatted away then we talked about circumstances currently. I wrongly guessed her age and it turned out we were quite distant on age and places in our lives. She had 3 kids, while I’m obviously child-free. It was clear the algorithm did work but only on the matching part, but did not factor in all the other things like looks, circumstance, desires, etc. The stuff which is unquantifiable?

End of the night, she left and we said goodbye while a bunch of us went to the Yorkshire Grey pub (George would be so proud) to discuss and carry on into the night. It was a warm night, so we sat outside on the benches, telling dating stories to each other. It was an nice end to the evening.

The last lot of the Horizon dating event

Everybody I spoke to had a good time they also had some good and bad stories about dating in recent times. The matches were somewhat hit and miss. Some numbers were exchanged but to be honest I think there will be maybe one or two who actually carry it further than a date or two (which still means Hannah’s algorithm would beat the year of making love!) . My match I’m unlikely to meet again, we didn’t swap anything and the pleasantries at the end of the night said it all. The initial excitement just seemed to break down once we discovered the difference in lifestyle, age and place in life.

Over drinks much later, a couple of us stayed out till about 1am. mr30notsoflirty, asked me if there were others I was interested in. I said yes and funny enough she was in my speed dating round, which meant she was likely matched quite highly with myself (remember I was in the one which was matched and were told so). I got a hint there might be some actually similarity in outlook earlier on but then got pulled away to do the pieces to the camera. There was another lady who stayed out later but had to get a train back to Kent, who was quite intriguing asking lots of questions about the scientific nature of everything, especially when I mentioned my geekness for dating. At the market place bar, we talked briefly and she said the comment of the night.

“You smell really good…!”

“well thank you” I said in return with a puzzled look on my face

Over all, it was intriguing and I’m happy to say Horizon did me and the BBC proud. It was pretty fluid, they seemed to get lots of footage (which I wish they would talk to BBC R&D about, as each couple have a interesting tale or two I’m sure). Met some lovely people and  my fears of the Year of making love were ironed out with the small contained venue, good people and a professional but friendly crew.

Just hope this is reflected in the show when it went live…

Update…

There’s a iWonder guide related to the programme (BBC iplayer).

On watching the programme, I was surprised how much of the vox pops from me made it into the programme. The show was mainly about Xander and the challenge of getting him a decent match. But it was clearly me on screen…

In the end, it was stalemate between the matching algorithm and random choice, which was a good conclusion I felt. Makes you think as you sink money and time into online dating, right? Also summing up why I find this area so interesting.

dating-against-humanity-46-638

A couple of things interested me, Helen Fisher and Lucy Brown‘s theory sounds interesting but once again where’s the paper or study? Prof Eli Finkel is absolutely right its somewhat rubbish and theres lots of papers proving it, even OKcupid’s OKtrends blog (and the deepend blog) doesn’t go into enough detail or give up the data for others to pull apart themselves. Xander was also wrong to say he was skeptical of algorthims, it was the premise which he wasn’t happy with. Even Hannah at one point said she wasn’t sure about the data which drives the algorthim she wrote.

I have already publiclly said it just doesn’t add up and the number element looms large. Hence why I chalked it up to the birthday paradox after much thought.

dating-against-humanity-48-638

While watching the show, my twitter and facebook was pretty busy, so busy I had to watch it again on iplayer. But some things came up which I wanted to reply to…

Xander and Hannah! Yeah they were very comfortable with each other, a few of us kept saying surely the two should get a room? But we all knew Hannah was happily married, but was so strange that Xander finally met a woman who from the back looked like a shorter version of Hannah. I actually thought it was her at first glance. Then I remember talking to some of the guys on the day, saying how she was very attractive.

During the show there was some comments about the lack of sexual diversity,  and I wanted to say, yes most were straight but there were a few gay couples too. The cameras missed a lot on that day but thats TV for you. There was also a diverse age range from quite young right up to much older than myself. Culturally it was quite diverse also, the BBC certainly did a good job and its important to once again say what you saw on screen wasn’t just it.

As a whole it was good and enjoyable, BBC Horizon did a good job touching on aspects of online dating problems and joys. Even down to Xander’s text exchange at the end of the programme. The whole worrying about what to say how long it takes for someone to come back to you is a real drama in modern dating. Although I do feel for the woman who went on the date with Xander because shes going to get a lot of angry women looking for her now…

Massive thanks to, Rachel Clarke I may have missed this great opportunity if she didn’t tweet me ages ago.

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…!

Our listening project conversation on BBC Radio 4

The BBC Radio 4 Listening project

Its weird, I seem to be popping up in a few places in the coming months.

Seems there is a very good chance I’ll be in BBC horizon’s how to find love online, then theres my TedXManchester talk, first dates if I ever hear anything back from them.  But of course there’s the listening project which Kate was kind enough to join me on.

Today I learned, myself and Kate’s conversation for the listening project will be on BBC Radio 4 in the next month.

Friday April 8th at 23.55 and then repeated again on the Sunday omnibus on April 10th. They should make a good birthday present.

I have no idea which bit they will play but if its anything like BBC Manchester’s edit, it should make a good listen.

Horizon’s How to find love online, coming in summer

Thanks to Mr30notsoflirty for the tweet pointing at the new Horizon line coming soon to BBC Two.

Interestingly… I thought they would push for a valentine date. But the love online is in the second half of the line up, meaning  you will have to wait for June or July. Of course I can’t say anything but you can look some of the run up.

Unfortunately I can’t see the video because I’m currently outside the UK and my proxy isn’t working as expected at the moment over this slower connection in Lagos, Portugal. But I gather it includes scenes of people I will know quite well… So instead here is the summary from the site.

How To Find Love Online
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?

Dr Hannah Fry studies patterns in human behaviour and has been studying the underlying algorithms that power internet dating sites. Dr Xand Van Tulleken is single and looking for love and, with help from Hannah, he experiences the world of online dating, from creating the perfect profile to looking at the biological basis of love.

Horizon dating, I’m doing it for the science

The good news is I have been accepted by BBC horizon!

Next week I’ll be in London taking part in the Horizon data/dating thing. I am expecting a better version of the MOSI event at least. The email I got was vague, but the questions in the sign up process were very interesting having done a load of OK cupid ones previous

horizon beer question

Heres the Beer question which always makes me laugh because of this OKTrends post.

Will my date have sex on the first date?

Ask…

  • Do you like the taste of beer?

Because…

Among all our casual topics, whether someone likes the taste of beer is the single best predictor of if he or she has sex on the first date.

No matter their gender or orientation, beer-lovers are 60% more likely to be okay with sleeping with someone they’ve just met.

Here’s a few more.

are geeks sexy

Of course I like this question a lot.

nuclear war

This one of course is fun to think about in a abstract light. This what I thought first time I answered it on OKcupid.

Horizon takes on the science of online dating?

Its happening againI swear everybody has caught on to the fact dating has changed and are studying it from a data point of view.

This time its Horizon who are sniffing around doing some dating research, and they actually have someone who really knows there stuff involved. Hannah Fry… yes the same woman who did the Tedtalk about the popularity in online dating. Ironically the most scientific dating experience was using her work around popularity at Manchester’s MOSI.

But even with Hannah Fry involved  I’m nervous because of 2 experiences.

  1. The year of making love – I mean I couldn’t believe it was actually the BBC behind this smoking cluster of a show. I should have known with it being aired on BBC Three.
  2. How to have more sex – Ok it was ITV and I guess it was the first time I had speed dating but seriously, when the guy tapped me on the shoulder in Brighton during the d.construct after party I was so shocked.

Saying all that, am I going to sign up?

Yes I did… I really hope its not a mistake I will regret! Now time for 150 questions, in the style/vein of OkCupid. I have a feeling I could be in for something interesting…

horizon goes okcupid on us

Quantified self heads into the mainstream

Quantified Self Europe 2013

Thanks to Rosie on Twitter, for alerting me to the BBC’s Science Club programme better known as the Dara O Briain’s Science Club. I had never heard of it before and to be fair when I watch it, I thought it was going to be crappy. However it was good, almost like the BBC had taken science very seriously. And now I understand why people are comparing Dr Helen Czerski to Brian Cox.

Science Club explores how powerful, affordable technology is ushering in a new era of DIY science that everyone can get involved in. Science journalist Alok Jha is in California to see how citizen science is being used to save lives in the early detection of earthquakes.

Dr Helen Czerski goes to Brazil and discovers an ingenious innovation – in an attempt to eradicate a killer disease, mosquitoes have been modified to self-destruct. In the studio, Dara and Professor Mark Miodownik get to grips with an inflatable crash helmet, a beat box made from vegetables and capture lightning in a box. And the team delve into tech hacking to see how stripping down and re-using technology promises to change our world

The whole theme of the show was DIY science and there was plenty of it including a whole piece on the Quantified Self. The piece wasn’t the amazing but did a good job of explaining the basics, what you could do and what people are already doing. As I said it wasn’t bad at all. Well worth watching…

Then…

Jasmine today (Monday) tweets about BBC Horizon: Monitor Me.

Dr Kevin Fong explores a medical revolution that promises to help us live longer, healthier lives. Inspired by the boom in health-related apps and gadgets, it’s all about novel ways we can monitor ourselves around the clock. How we exercise, how we sleep, even how we sit.

Some doctors are now prescribing apps the way they once prescribed pills. Kevin meets the pioneers of this revolution. From the England Rugby 7s team, whose coach knows more about his players’ health than a doctor would, to the most monitored man in the world who diagnosed a life threatening disease from his own data, without going to the doctor.

The likes of these shows talking about what people are doing with the quantified self in a more public setting is certainly driving adoption in the mainstream. Hopefully the core principles will stay…