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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Review - Data, a Love Story

Before I met my husband, I tried the personal ad dating thing (in the newspaper!) and in some online dating too, before it was popular (this was in the early 90s). I met a lot of creepy guys. Granted, I met a lot of creepy guys at bars/parties/blind dates too. I’m fortunate to be married to the man of my dreams, but do have many friends who are not so fortunate. That’s one reason I wanted to read this book, Data, a Love Story: How I Gamed OnlineDating to Meet My Match. My single friends (many of whom are parents) are doing the dating thing, whether it’s an online dating service or just word of mouth. But even if you’re not looking for love, this book is worth a read. It’s a great memoir, and it’s funny.

Amy Webb, a journalist who has written for Newsweek, the Wall Street Journal among others, decided to try online dating much later, and I’m so glad she did. Of course her husband (not really a spoiler alert) is too, but the journey she takes is fascinating and hilarious, and it’s like you have a direct phone line to your brilliant, confident best friend who is too smart for her own good. Amy is just nerdy, wacky and self-deprecating enough  to make the process work to her advantage. And she’s nerdy enough that she has an appendix supporting all her math and data (which normal people wouldn’t care about).

After a slew of bad dates with losers she met online, Amy set out to game the system. She’s a numbers and a technical person, and she wanted to figure out, using data, who the men were she wanted to date, and how she could get them to answer her ad. So she posed as a man (actually several men whose personas matched what she was looking for) to find out what women responded and what made their profiles successful. Devious? Yes. She then got a makeover, from exercise to clothing and hair. And she started looking at this like a marketing gig, repositioning herself with great success.

Amy also came up with a checklist of traits she wanted in a man (from great sex to hair color), and assigned everything in point system. If a man didn’t reach a certain number of points by a certain time, out he went. I won’t give the away the ending (which you can tell from the title is a happy one), but how she gets there is awesome. And it’s hopeful. Amy gives the practical tips in the back of the book on how you can do this yourself – the benefit of her hard-earned wisdom. 

So whether you're happily married or desperately looking, Data, a Love Story is a good read.

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