I Want You to Want Me

With so much information at our fingertips, it is increasingly important to create powerful visualization tools to make it all more palatable. I Want You To Want Me does this in the world of matchmaking. The visualization project “explores the search for love and self in the world of online dating.”

Dating profiles may not seem the ripest place for important data, but there is a lot that can be learned from looking at the traits we think others will value in us and what we want to find in prospective partners. Every stumble and triumph in dating life is an opportunity to reflect on ourselves, and being able to see these pieces from others is valuable in understanding both ourselves and the societies we live in.

Over the past several years, online dating has entered the mainstream, drawing over 50 million visitors per month. En masse, people have condensed their identities into page or paragraph-long descriptions, sometimes complemented by a handful of photographs or peppered with responses to canned questions. These personal profiles are modern messages in a bottle, short statements of self, telling not only who people are, but also what people want. In these advertisements for new human relationships, people package and present their most loveable qualities to help complete their quest to be loved.

I Want You To Want Me chronicles the world’s long-term relationship with romance, across all ages, genders, and sexualities, gathering new data from a variety of online dating sites every few hours. The system searches these sites for certain phrases, which it then collects and stores in a database. These phrases, taken out of context, provide partial glimpses into people’s private lives. Simultaneously, the system forms an evolving zeitgeist of dating, tracking the most popular first dates, turn-ons, desires, self-descriptions and interests.

The highlights the group behind the project have shared range between inspiring and ridiculous, with a person who “will listen to your darkest demons and not fear them” for each one “looking for a guy to JUST make out with.” What this tells us about our outer and inner worlds I’m not sure, but it’s one glimpse more than we had before this project launched.

The video that follows demonstrates the visualization and shares some more about the project.

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