They wanted to know what would happen in a world where instead of vetting potential dates by their artfully posed selfies or carefully crafted dating-site profiles, we looked at data gathered by their computers and phones.
As use of data-gathering devices increases, it’s a world that’s just round the corner. “There’s a bit of a mismatch between a data led view of the world – which is very dry and mechanical – and how we view ourselves,” says Chris Elsden, who headed up the project.
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“We’re not suggesting your ideal match would be somebody who gets up at the same time,” he says.
In this monthly hangout, Sean Plott ("Day") and friends explore the confusion and puzzlement shared by geek men everywhere when it comes to the fairer sex while drinking excellent imported beer and playing old text and video games revolving around the conflict between the sexes.
The event then took the form of traditional speed-dating, with four minutes for pairs to get to know each other.
The researchers listened as people described themselves using the “language of data”.
It asked for a host of specific numbers: shoe size, the farthest distance they had travelled from home, the earliest and latest times of day they had sent an email in the past month, their heart rate as they filled out the form.
It also left blank spaces for people to add whatever data they wanted. To kick off the evening, they spent time looking over one another’s anonymised data profiles, discussing who they might like in groups.So much of our data is in the hands of large companies that it can make people feel powerless, says Jessa Lingel at the University of Pennsylvania. “Offering a way for people to feel like they have some control, or can be creative or thoughtful about the data they’re producing, is really important,” Lingel says.