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.
Me? I wake up and get dressed while listening to NPR then dash out the door to race up the street to catch the bus (I’m usually running late). Then I read or play a game (Lumosity to improve my memory) while riding the bus to the train. Once on the train, I read or catch up on any vestiges of sleep I missed when I jumped out my bed at the ring of my fifth alarm.
I grab breakfast on my way to work (bagel and hot chocolate, or, if I’m in the mood to be nice to myself, French toast) and eat while working. Break for lunch at 2 or 3, read while eating, then back to work. The afternoons are for pleasing myself, which may consist of hanging with a friend, visiting a bookstore or museum, walking and musing to myself, or more reading while travelling. My nights are spent trolling the internet or bingeing on Netflix before turning in to bed.
The weekends aren’t much different the exception being that I don’t move around as much. I wake late, read in bed, and binge on Netflix all day. I may take a walk/hike or call a friend and, if the inspiration hits, write. Otherwise I spend the day prone with my eyes glued to my laptop, numbing my brain.
I wasn’t planning to write anything on this book but I read it as part of my Goodreads 2013 reading challenge and since I blogged about every other book thus far I thought, why the hell not. This one was a re-read. I loved World History for Dummies the first time I read it and enjoyed my re-read too.
Now, the popular question: WHY read a book called World History for Dummies??
The answer: I was craving history. I wanted a quick run-down of history. I wanted to know what happened without it being boring and stuffy. I wanted it all to be fun. (Textbooks tend not to be fun.)
It’s not because I am unfamiliar with world history that I decided to read this book. It’s because I wanted a refresher without being bogged down. I wanted to read a book that would leave me wanting to know more, not turn me off the subject. World History for Dummies did that. It is written for the everyday girl who has a passing interest in history. Like, she woke up one morning and said to herself, “I want to learn world history today. What should I read?”
I am an introvert through and through. I like solitude. I enjoy sorting through my thoughts or dreaming up stories to entertain myself. I am shy at times and find it hard to operate in intimate sit-down-and-chat parties, where small talk is the mode for socializing. Last year, when I was hooked on TED Talks, I came across Susan Cain’s TED Talk. It intrigued me that someone who claims to be shy could do such a compelling, and at times funny, talk. Upon discovering that she had written a book about introverts, I became excited and immediately wanted to purchase it. But, being one of the many postgrads with a huge student loan, I was unable to quickly attain what I desired. A few months passed before I could purchase it.
Cain’s book is just as compelling as her TED Talk albeit longer. Like most nonfiction books these days, it is written for a mainstream audience and deftly mixes narrative with facts and data to engage the common reader and sustain his interest. Cain is a bit heavy with the narrative and sometimes the reader will tire of the stories but the reader will hardly want to skip them since they help to illustrate the facts Cain states. Basically, the stories are not unnecessary. Cain ensures that they all tie into the facts that she plans to expound on, or that they highlight those facts she has already stated. The narratives range from a peek at Rosa Parks’ personality at the beginning of the book to a profile on Asian students in California to stories on notable businessmen who benefit from being an introvert. These stories help to demystify some tales associated with being classified an introvert and highlight its benefits.