big data | September 02, 2014

First Look: Christian Rudder's New Book Dataclysm Examines Who We Are

As the cofounder of popular dating site OK Cupid, Christian Rudder has access to a lot of data—a lot of very personal data. But instead of using it to spy on us or sell us products, he has written a new book that reveals a new way of seeing ourselves: Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One's Looking).

In a recent interview with Rudder, The New Yorker explored this new frontier of big data: "[Rudder] would like for this current inundation [of data], like Noah’s, to be thought of not just as an agent of destruction, 'an unprecedented deluge', but as a means of renewal, one that will wash away our old limited understanding of how people actually think and behave." The first reviews of Dataclysm agree, saying "demographers, entrepreneurs, students of history and sociology, and ordinary citizens alike will find plenty of provocations and, yes, much data in Rudder's well-argued, revealing pages" (Kirkus Reviews).

More about the book:
For centuries, we’ve relied on polling or small-scale lab experiments to study human behavior. Today, a new approach is possible. As we live more of our lives online, researchers can finally observe us directly, in vast numbers, and without filters. Data scientists have become the new demographers.
In this daring and original book, Christian Rudder explains how Facebook "likes" can predict, with surprising accuracy, a person’s sexual orientation and even intelligence; how attractive women receive exponentially more interview requests; and why you must have haters to be hot. He charts the rise and fall of America’s most reviled word through Google Search and examines the new dynamics of collaborative rage on Twitter. He shows how people express themselves, both privately and publicly. What is the least Asian thing you can say? Do people bathe more in Vermont or New Jersey? What do black women think about Simon & Garfunkel? (Hint: they don’t think about Simon & Garfunkel.) Rudder also traces human migration over time, showing how groups of people move from certain small towns to the same big cities across the globe. And he grapples with the challenge of maintaining privacy in a world where these explorations are possible.
Visually arresting and full of wit and insight, Dataclysm is a new way of seeing ourselves—a brilliant alchemy, in which math is made human and numbers become the narrative of our time.

To book Christian Rudder as a speaker for your next event, contact The Lavin Agency.

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arts and pop culture | September 01, 2014