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

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9781591845317: Love in the Time of Algorithms: What Technology Does to Meeting and Mating

“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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About 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.

Review:

"Slater considers all these issues in an intelligent, edgy, thought-provoking way. His book is worth at least a speed date."
"--Washington Post "

"Slater has dug in manfully to explain how technology is transforming how we meet and fall in love."
"--Wall Street Journal"

"Slater's account of the history of the cyber dating industry--from ginormous clunky old computers to modern complex algorithms--is well detailed."
"--Financial Times"

"In this artful examination of our techno-romantic universe, Dan Slater offers an eye-opening look at the ways our very own behaviors and desires have been forever changed." --Jessica Massa and Rebecca Wiegand, cocreators of" ""The Gaggle" and "WTF Is Up With My Love Life?!"
"A fascinating romp through the world of online dating, packed with anecdotes about how people are adapting (or not) to love on the Internet."
--Bethany McLean, coauthor of" ""The Smartest Guys in the Room"
--review

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