Love in the Time of Algorithms: What Technology Does to Meeting and Mating

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“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?”

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Love in the Time of Algorithms: What Technology Does to Meeting and Mating

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“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.

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Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post - Claudia Deane
…offers an interesting history of computer-aided matchmaking, an anthropological look at online dating behavior and social network-style profiles of some of the (seemingly all male) founders of the era's biggest online dating success stories…Behind Slater's engaging reporting lurks the mystery of whether science can actually predict love, even with the most nuanced computer program as its handmaiden. And the ultimate question: What does the ability to connect with streams of ostensibly eligible people at any given moment do to our ideas of courting, commitment, monogamy and even marriage? Slater considers all these issues in an intelligent, edgy, thought-provoking way.
Library Journal
Author and reporter Slater tracks the evolution of online dating services from the early Sixties to the present, examining profile excerpts, analytics, and industry commentary to reveal how online dating companies such as Match, eHarmony, PlentyOfFish, and niche dating sites (Women Behind Bars, STD Friends, and SweetonGeeks) have provided new avenues for people to meet. Slater cites intriguing research on dating and social behaviors, which will appeal to readers of Rowland Miller and others’ Intimate Relationships. Slater looks at facts drawn from browsing and questionnaire data supplied by users of online dating services rather than research from academic case studies.

Verdict This book will be of interest to those who use, or are curious about, online dating services and anyone interested in relationship patterns in general. Slater’s insights into the various ways relationships are mediated by technology, especially within the realm of online dating services, prove a fascinating read.—Ryan Nayler, Native Counselling Svcs. of Alberta

(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Reviews
A thorough examination of online dating sites. Finding a companion in life has never been an easy task. In fact, as Fast Company contributor Slater writes, "for virtually all of human history the search for a mate has been predicated on scarcity: One met only so many people in his or her lifetime." It is a logical jump in today's world to use modern technology to help improve the chances of meeting someone. Using personal interviews and extensive research, Slater shows how the latest mode of dating, online, has amplified one's chances by thousands of times as people connect in cyberspace. From its humble beginnings to the thousands of sites now available, cyberdating is the new way to mingle, with complex algorithms and extensive questionnaires analyzed by computers, which decide who might be the perfect mate. Sites like Match and OkCupid bring together millions of people, and the industry continues to flourish. In 2010, it was estimated that one out of every five couples got together through online dating. This new tool to finding a soul mate has changed the way society looks at relationships, as one does not have to settle for a partner from the immediate area. But, as Slater writes, "these new means of connection are threatening the old paradigm of adult life"--not every match made online lasts. Many users find it easier to break up with someone who is not quite the perfect fit rather than work on accepting differences. Choice overload becomes an issue as well, as users question how long to stick with someone; after all, there could be someone better on the next webpage. Although not a choice for everyone, online dating is here to stay; whether it is the best way to find a mate is still under debate. An enjoyable exploration of the evolution and implications of online dating.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781591845317
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 1/24/2013
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 1,052,638
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

DAN SLATER is a widely published author of journal-ism and creative nonfiction. A former legal affairs reporter for The Wall Street Journal, he is currently a contributor to Fast Company and has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, New York Magazine, and GQ. Slater is a graduate of Colgate University and Brooklyn Law School.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2013

    This is a really compelling read. It's not the first book about

    This is a really compelling read. It's not the first book about how technology impacts human behavior. But it's the first one that under-promises and over-delivers. Slater doesn't claim more than he can demonstrate, and his ideas about how online-dating affects relationships are apt and recognizable to anyone who's ever taken the plunge. Deeply reported and terrifically told, the personal stories he gets from both users and online-dating industry executives are riveting in their detail. "Love in the Time of Algorithms" should be read by anyone who wants to understand the modern landscape of relationships and romance in a time of heavy reliance on technology.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2013

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