Modern Romance / Dataclysm

~Optimize your Tindr profile//Learn about technology’s impact on romantic & social interactions. ——————— So much winning.


My time with theses books is sadly coming to an end — a tough reality I have been trying to stomach as I’ve given them one last pass through before I hand them off for as friend’s birthday present.

These books are excellent light weekend reads that examine how interpersonal and romantic interactions have evolved with increased technological access & capabilities. They are great compliments to each other, with Ansari’s ‘Modern Romance’, at times, borrowing charts and ideas from Dataclysm before offering illustrative real-world examples.

Written by OkCupid’s Christian Rudder – Dataclysm, at its heart, is an introduction into how social media data aggregation can be used to model and understand subconscious societal behaviors, preferences and biases. Rudder postulates that aggregated online information creates an abstract reflection of the society, community or sub-group that generated it. Through extension, Rudder builds the case that meta-data scrapped from google queries, public profile data, geographic tagging, etc. can provide deeper insights into psychological, political and societal inquires than traditional survey and polling methods.

The book allots heavy space to the analysis of people’s romantic desires and behaviours using data aggregated from OkCupid dating platform and renders them in bold visualizations. I have to give props to Rudder’s visualization skill — anyone can plot points, but Rudder’s accompanying annotations and use of color clearly communicate and enhance the points made in the text.

The most striking thing aspect of the book is Rudder’s ability to use aggregated data to parse out desires, behaviours and outcomes (e.g. 40 y.o males limit their searches for women in their age bracket but continuously fantasize of a 23 y.o. girlfriend until they keel over and die). The difference between these three states of action is something that is under-rated and not examined enough by modern data scientists (statisticians).

For a book that you could thumb-through in a few hours, it does an excellent job in introducing basic data processing & analysis methodologies and psychological theories.

Given its data-centric focus, Dataclysm is short on real-world interaction examples and feedback regarding romantic interactions.
This is where Modern Love steps in and functions as a good complement to Rudder’s data-driven exploration of our online romances.

Modern Love is Ansari’s comedic exploration of how social attitudes and behaviors with regards to romantic relationships have changed over the course of the last 50 years as personal freedom and technological advances have leapt forward in-hand. This book was published a year after Dataclysm and quotes it periodically. Dataclysm’s data-centric focus is emulated by Ansari, though he primarily relies on the work published by other social scientists.

On the plus side, the studies and works that the book references are pretty solid. Furthermore, Aziz does a good job personalizing the findings by communicating people’s lay-man feedback.

To wrap-up, Aziz does a surprisingly good job of explaining the root-cause and the short, long-term economic & social impacts of falling birth rates and similar western trends. The section on the Japan’s challenges with regards to sexual relationships, birth-rates and an aging population is just about the only thing you’ll need to read on the subject. I’ve tried to get a good grip on the subject for a while now; Forget FT, Reuters or BBC reports — just read Ansari.

On a side note, Ansari can be a little annoying to read if you’re not a big fan of his comedic sketches. His writing style mirrors his stand-up performances and is fairly heavy on tangents and random side-jokes. I had to labor through a few sections, but overall they style aspect is manageable if you’re not a mega-fan.

‘Aight — go read, these will provide a solid day of fun. 4/5-star book combo.

~Random Food for Thought.

John Waters Effect: Discussed early in Dataclysm as Rudder makes the case that divisive personalities (as featured in profiles) create polarization of extreme admiration and repulsion.  — I think it would be fair to say that this effect is now observable in the political shear. Brownie points and eye balls follow partisans (Sanders, Trump, Warren, Miller, Conway, etc.) that push extremes and generate John Waters division.
Is normal order dying by, as Rudder puts it, a thousand ‘mehs’?? Props to boring federal politicians like Flake (R-AZ) & Bennet (D-CO).

Gooshy music while you read and ponder modern relationships.

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