|Dataclysm. Not as rude as it sounds.|
In a new book, Dataclysm, Christian Rudder updates the picture, using Big Data. If you don't know what I mean by Big Data, then let me demonstrate.
That looks like Big Data, but it isn't.
However, imagine if you had access to every thought, purchase, statement or comment ever made by everyone ever? That would be pretty big, wouldn't it?
Via the internet, and the twenty-or-so years of really rich data it can now provide, this Big Data is growing. It's out there and it's being used by big businesses to target you in their advertising spend, by potential employers to predict your suitability for jobs, and by governments to work out who you are and if they need to be monitoring your activities.
This is an aggressively fascinating book which you won't put down until you're finished. Rudder is one of the founders of US dating website OKCupid which explains his starting point, and where he came by a huge chunk of the data he's exploring here.
And it gives us what is, for me, the single most fascinating piece of data in the book, which, like the worst kind of bastard, I'm about to SPOILER for you.
OKCupid asked hundreds of thousands of people to specify the approximate age of partner they were looking for when they joined the dating site.
Then Rudder looked at the answers provided. Women basically are looking for a partner a few years younger or older than themselves, so a woman of 20 might be seeking a man between the ages of 20-22. A woman of 30 might be looking for a man 29-32. By 40, a woman might edge down to seek males of 37-40. By 50 she's back on board with a man 45-55. But it's generally consistent, and holds true as a formula.
It is however, nowhere near as consistent as the replies given by men. The ideal average age for a prospective female partner, for men of any age from 20-70, was given as...
Thus we can conclude that a 23 year old woman is already over the hill in terms of her peak attractiveness to the vile assessments of the cold gimlet male gaze. We can also conclude that most men over the age of, say, 30, are despicably filthy and deluded old beasts. We already knew men would fuck mud - but know we know that ideally the mud won't be older than 22.
Rudder, by the way, writes in an extremely approachable and chatty fashion. If you're interested in the applications of social media metadata, or just really fascinated by the space between what people say and what they actually do, this book has a heck of a lot to interest you.
Go forth and read it. We'll know if you do.
Those of us in publishing are counting down to the Frankfurt Book Fair which is hurtling towards us like a massive grey sojourn to Europe. If you've never been, it's essentially a week in a huge hall, meeting with booksellers from all around the world, eating nothing but complex carbohydrates, and talking about books. A lot. I generally enjoy it, but this year I'm taking the gym kit. What it does mean is that over the next few weeks I'm going to be pretty rammed, but I'll get the oft-promised review of Martin Amis's The Zone of Interest online before I go, if it kills me.
Also, if you're reading this because you arrived at this book blog via the excellent website of The Diddly Dum Podcast and are currently wondering just what the hell is going on, let me place a friendly arm around your shoulder and lead you in this direction.
Until next time, gentle reader, look after yourself, read something brilliant, and think carefully about the Big Data you're giving "the man" with each mouse-click...