big data | February 13, 2013

Love & Data: OkCupid Co-Founder Christian Rudder Talks To TED [VIDEO]

While some people are still skeptical about whether they can find true love online, OkCupid co-founder and Dataclysm author Christian Rudder has good reason to believe in the powers of Internet Cupid: he met his own wife on a dating site! And the big data speaker is not alone. Hundreds of other people every day are finding a love connection on a dating site, too. As Rudder says in a new TED Blog post, about 500 people disable their OkCupid accounts daily because they've found someone on the site. If this isn't enough to convince you, Rudder has provided a little TED-Ed lesson on digital love for you—explaining how his site matches up hopeful singles, and sharing the valuable data that's accumulated in the process. 

The ability to translate a complex physical phenomenon (like human attraction) into something a microchip can understand is one of the most important tools you can have in today's market, Rudder says in the video. Making that happen requires the accumulation of data about the people in question, and, as Rudder has found: "The best way to get data quickly from people is to just ask for it." So that's what Rudder and his co-founders did. And, they quickly became flooded with information. His team then assigned numerical values to this data, created an algorithm, and came up with what he calls a "mathematical expression of how happy you'd be together." What's perhaps even more interesting, however, is that this data serves a purpose that extends beyond simply matching people together for a potential date. It also gives us a great deal of insight into human behavior.

For example, Rudder has found that women get responses to their messages more often than men, men often message the most attractive women, and if you don't get a reply to your message in about 7 hours—you might never get one. All of this information is hidden in the terabytes of data that his users are creating every day. Rudder shows his audiences how to use that data in meaningful, profitable, ways. He has now taken this practice beyond OkCupid and also mines the data produced through social media networks and other popular websites. His research has been featured repeatedly by The New York Times, Harper’s, and The Atlantic, and is dramatically changing the way companies approach the use of data. In his talks, Rudder shares the myriad possibilities of harnessing big data, and explores what our digital footprints can tell us about human relationships.

Up Next

innovation | February 12, 2013