Christian Rudder, a Harvard grad and co-founder and president of the dating site OkCupid, has written an engaging book in which he uses data to analyze human behavior. Most of the data is taken from OkCupid’s user base, and is presented as an aggregate so no one is singled out. According to Rudder, he is telling the story of the masses.
Dataclysm is a wonderful read. It’s funny, light, and relatable with a few narratives thrown in. The book looks thick but it can be a quick read if you have the time for it. It also helps that the text and graphs are visually appealing. If you’re interested in graphic design, I suggest taking a look at Rudder’s graphs and tables. He presents a variety of them in a clean manner that makes them easy to understand.
Rudder draws surprising conclusions from his data though some were more of a confirmation for what I already know. A few points Rudder uncovers include: older men are more attracted to younger women (a glance at the TV show Millionaire Matchmaker proves this); using Twitter may actually improve one’s writing than hurt it; the more followers a person has on Twitter, the more that person sounds like a corporation. He also includes his opinions on his findings, some of which I disagree with, but I like reading them. He doesn’t try to ignore the subjectivity of his research.
One problem I have with his data, though, is that he takes it for granted that people on OkCupid are being entirely honest on their profiles. People do lie on the internet and often try to present themselves in a favorable light. I think Rudder should have taken that into consideration even if OkCupid does ask a bunch of questions to weed out the fakes. It makes me question the stats in his data even though his conclusions ring true.
I guess this post can be a mash-up of today’s assignment and an assignment from a few weeks ago that I didn’t get to: Be Inspired by the Community.
Today’s Daily Prompt—The Great Divide: When reading for fun, do you usually choose fiction or nonfiction? Do you have an idea why you prefer one over the other?—made me immediately think of a quote from a recent post over at The Librarian Who Doesn’t Say Shh! The quote explains how a person’s personality influences her preference for either science fiction or fantasy:
“Fans of science fiction (and dystopia) want to explore ways to change our existing world. Fans of fantasy want to explore ways to escape the limitations of this world.”
I begin with this because when I read for fun, I always gravitate towards fiction and the type of fiction I tend to choose is fantasy. Even when I decide to take a break from fiction and choose a nonfiction book, I still tend to pick up compendiums of essays that discuss fiction or mythology.
The quote above helps to explain why these are my choices. I do seek ways to escape the limitations of this world, even in my simple everyday tasks. While walking down the road, I may see a structure or doorway that tickles my imagination into wondering if it’s a portal to a world that operates on a different time (faster or slower than ours), and that’s filled with magical creatures and odd experiences waiting to happen. Sometimes I walk through such imagined portals, excited at the prospect of what could happen to me: Would I immediately exit through the other side, or would I first live a separate life before exiting to continue my present one? Sometimes I think C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe has left too strong an impression on my imagination. (My friends and family probably think this too.)