Data-driven Insights for Dating

When apps and love come up in a conversation, we ready ourselves for some lame stories of another Tindr swipe gone-wrong or questions of whether we tried the latest contender for OkCupid.  Taking love (and lust) online is fast becoming a need versus a last-ditch option.

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What a meet-cute looks like when J-Lo wears heels. (The Wedding Planner-2001)

There is a limit to how long a man or a woman can honestly expect to bump into the perfect someone in a meet-cute situation (a la rom-com). Thanks, but no thanks, Hollywood. Millennials are taking these matters into their hands – and onto their smartphones.

There is something truly unique in the App Store now, going far beyond the newest Tindr or any of the miscellany of dating or hookup apps. It’s called Evolve. Evolve’s tagline on the website reads “Introducing the world’s first DRM- Dating & Relationship Manager”. Like a Hubspot, a customer relationship management tool, but for courtship, the Evolve App analyzes the data you are tracking, pre-and post every date.

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Evolve allows you to rate your dates, gauge relationship potential, reflect on your dates, see patterns, discover date spots- everything except the actual matching itself. That you figure out on your own. The idea is that once you understand your patterns, Evolve helps you change your behavior and make smarter decisions.

You won’t find any matches here – you’ve got plenty of apps for that. Evolve helps you date with intention. Weigh your options, reflect on your dates, and make the most of your time. Get personalized insights, tips, and discover where the best dates are happening in your city – all backed by data.

Dating behaviour ranges from little understood to completely misunderstood. Once you add in the complexities of online socialization, all bets are off! Data analytics to suss out preferences and concerns – but can this approach work for human relationships as well?

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The question of the day is: Do we need software to analyze our dating lives? 

We use apps to track everything – from fitness activity level, via a pedometer or FitBit app/device to what we eat, or how far we travel in a day. Not only that, we also expect actionable data to result from all the data we are collecting and feeding into these apps.  We expect to live our ‘best life’ and want technology to aid us in the pursuit.

The more one thinks about it, the more natural it becomes to believe that the use of data can ensure a satisfactory courting experience.

That, however, might be because us digital natives have been conditioned to believe that data is queen. Data can do no wrong. Can behavioural science truly help us interpret the quirks of romance in the wild? Outside controlled social experiments? Is Evolve App the missing piece of the system attempting to measure complex social behaviours of contemporary times? Will we ignore the butterflies in our collective stomachs and depend solely on data-driven insights to foster relationships? Evolve App and others like it may be a sign of things to come. 

Catalyst Woman’s research also found that…

  • In the U.S. the online dating industry generated over $2 billion in revenue on an annual basis while in China it has generated $1.6 billion.
  • After young adults, 18-24 year olds, the other largest age group participating in online dating is 55-64 year olds.

Virtual Reality: Are We There Yet? (Podcast Episode #7)

Hey hey! The latest episode of the Catalyst Woman podcast is out – so give it a listen on iTunes , Soundcloud or right here.

The write-up will be coming out later today. Get in touch – drop me an email at talk to catalyst woman at gmail dot com or tweet at me  @ the rate of catalyst woman. 

pixel-by-pixel- the psychology behind the Prisma phenomenon

Simple question coming up – Why Prisma?  Here are some captions from the official Prisma Google App Playstore Page:

Turn every photo into art!‘ ‘Every photo becomes art’  This line is the most disturbing: ‘Prisma transforms your photos into artworks using the styles of famous artists: Munk, Picasso as well as world famous ornaments and patterns. A unique combination of neural networks and artificial intelligence helps you turn memorable moments into timeless art.’

OH!  So all that has been standing between me and recognition of my artistic genius is a photo-editing app?  There is not a *teensy* bit of reason to expect that creativity, training in the various trades/genres and sheer talent may be the barrier from me becoming the next Rembrandt.  All that is required is an Application. If you have yet to recognize my stance on the latest whirlwind tech phenomenon, I don’t Prisma.

However, it is worth digging deeper into what makes Prisma so attractive to tons of people across the globe. 

What could possibly be attractive about a machine imaging process that converts a real instance into a thermal image or a blurred out robot-like attempt at monochromatic watercolor painting?

Is it because we are innately and infinitely curious about how computers  (inanimate machines of our making) view us?  Are we so alone that any shred of apparent creativity or artistic output is enough to render further endearment to the technological beasts-of-burden? 

Is this the very end of the line (I doubt it) of our narcissistical tendencies – the need to view ourselves from multiple vantages and viewpoints? When will this need quench?

Prisma photos look like (I can only imagine) when a cyborg needs to be thwapped from the side of it’s ‘head’ to adjust it’s vision. Colors bleed unnaturally.

One social media commentator was quick to call a freshly Prisma’d friend ‘gorgeous’. Gorgeous now means a modified, spray-brushed Microsoft Paint version of your likeness. 

Eventually, the novelty for Prisma will, too, die off.  Terminal overthinkers and worrywarts like myself will find a fresher topic to observe.  What will remain is the discovery that modern day humans seek easy,swift detachment from their immediate surroundings. Preferably at the click of a button.

It can be that we are escaping further into wilful delusion, aided by games and pointless tasks like flinging round birds at klepto-pigs  or collecting imaginary monsters.  At least the Pokemon do not instigate full-scale coups on a Sunday morning.  Apps like Prisma and Snapchat alter your facial features but you still have a passport that is recognized and country to call home.

 

the world on the web this week

Sound that You Can Wear

“…“You’re going to change the word listen to feel,” says Timbaland. “It’s about whole body, completing the experience.” …

SubPac is creating its own physical-sound category through two unique products: the SubPac M2, a wearable vest, and the SubPac S2, a seatback device. Similar to sub woofers in the back of seats, when you wear this wearable, which is similar to a backpack, you literally feel the low-end frequencies throughout your entire body — and you can take it wherever you go. The startup has attracted major investors and industry leaders who have joined forces to engineer this sound movement.”

Our 30s are the decade when friends disappear.

Distracted Users are the New Normal , Design for Them 

‘Debating the relative merits of a more distracted versus a more focused society is about as worthwhile as kicking rocks.  … What does that mean in practice? Expecting that any opportunity your UX presents for distraction will result in divided attention, for one. Here’s a list of what that means:

  • If your product allows a user to feel at all that they can do something else simultaneously, expect them to do that.
  • Assume that partial participation by a user is roughly equivalent to no participation at all.
  • If a task requires significant user attention, make it challenging – this might mean actually downplaying so-called “smart” features.”

The Brilliant Mechanics of Pokemon Go

 

‘Amid the entire play session, the game has to stay open. That keeps you from getting distracted and flipping out to other apps. I find myself walking with my phone in my pocket, but with the game open often enough while wearing headphones. Whenever there’s a chime, I take the phone out of my pocket and start playing — whether that’s collecting Pokéballs or trying to capture something new (or some crappy junk Pokémon for the sake of experience). The game world is vibrant and beautiful, making it something easy and fun to see. It’s filled with flair and flashes that are visually stimulating and signal new elements of the game. All this makes the player want to keep their eyes — or ears — glued to their phone, ready to engage with it the moment something new happens.’

‘I needed VR to get away from the augmented reality of Pokémon Go.’ 

 

 

Mini-Goal#1? Learn Basic Coding

I am finally getting around to starting on my mini-goal for 2016 (Hello April!), which is to learn basic coding.

I began with CodeAcademy’s free javascript introductory course.

What did I learn to do? I animated my name.

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Now, I’d like something much more challenging so I am looking at exploring one of the back-end languages like Ruby, Python or Java.

Here’s the Quora Answer that I am referencing  as well as the long-list of coding resources that are completely free.

Will post an update as soon as I select a new language to learn during the mini-goal adventure.

 

 

 

bits, bytes, blockchain

CW bits,bytes,blockchainBlockchain is today what Big Data/ Cloud Data was back in 2012- part new-kid-on-the-block and part mysterious technological chanteuse. Everybody’s talking about it, everybody wants a piece of it and almost everybody is intrigued by it.

The open ledger-mining method for tracking, trading and creating digital -slash- cryptocurrency called Bitcoin for monetary transactions across the internet – that’s how most of us have been introduced to Blockchain technology.

Not familiar with what  Blockchain is?

“The blockchain is a digital ledger of sorts, where all transactions that have been made, or events that may have occurred, can be seen online, by anyone, without compromising the privacy of the parties involved. These ledgers are shared and distributed amongst different computing nodes, and can only be changed once there is a shared consensus among all nodes. Once information is entered, it cannot be erased, and the distributed nature of these records — along with a built-in layer of cryptographic protections — make them difficult to hack or alter by any one individual.”

A blockchain is a massive, fraud-resistant distributed ledger that could be the new infrastructure of the future. The open ledger uses consensus algorithms to transparently record and verify any transactions without a third party. It replaces the middleman with mathematics. Because the blockchain infrastructure is decentralized, there’s a lot less friction and time wasted than traditional, centralized processes.

CW blockchain everythingNow, more and more, we hear of Blockchain being paired up with varying partners – Education, the Banking sector, Governance  to the Music industry- any discipline where records are kept.

Zeroing in on my particular favourite, what can we expect if Blockchain technology is applied to Education? In particular, what, if any, revolutionizing will take place if the open ledger database system is applied to everyone’s academic records?

Looping back to last year’s hottest story, the Axact – Fake Degree scandal, there are enough people out there with inauthentic academic qualifications, intentional or not, to make a case for verification of academic credentials and to identify products of diploma mills. Then the question is raised whether a public ledger system for educational records will be considered reliable.

Audrey Watters covers this particular conundrum wonderfully in a recent post of hers. Here’s an excerpt:

…When it comes to issues of “trust” and, say, academic certification, who is not trusted here? Is it the problem that folks believe students/employees lie about their credentials? Or is the problem that credential-issuing entities aren’t trustworthy? I mean, why/how would we “trust” the entity issuing blockchained credentials? (What is actually the source of “trust” in our current credentialing system? Spoiler alert: it’s not necessarily accreditation.) How would the trustworthiness of blockchained credential-issuing institutions be measured or verified? If it’s by the number of transactions (eg. badges issued), doesn’t that encourage diploma milling?”

Audrey Watters of  Aud.Life 

According to The New Stack blog, the Holberton School in San Francisco is using blockchain technology in a bid to authenticate degrees it offers. Effectively providing a service to both the graduate as well as the potential employer by being the very first educational institution to offer secured and publicly accessible academic certificates in the world.  Sounds like music to my ears, what with recent experiences in hiring department, though it seems to put the pressure on other institutions to either follow suit or share why they will stick with the status quo.

Sony Global Education announced it’s launch of  block-chain-based technology to share academic records; Sony’s product will be in the market sometime in 2017.

I had been meaning to write about this for a few days now, however, with the global uproar over the Panama Leaks, it seems to be kismet!

The Panama Papers are an unprecedented leak of 11.5m files from the database of the world’s fourth biggest offshore law firm, Mossack Fonseca….The documents show the myriad ways in which the rich can exploit secretive offshore tax regimes. Twelve national leaders are among 143 politicians, their families and close associates from around the world known to have been using offshore tax havens.

The scandal lines up nicely with the topic at-hand; with such wide-scale corruption, a decentralized, distributed model of public record-keeping applied to the purchase and transfer of assets seems to be a scheme worth trying.

data_transferIs the growing enthusiasm for uber-transparency in all services up for consumption a symptom of the decaying global economies?

Are we abandoning the bogeymans enforced on us in the era of Capitalism and trumped up banking charges to embrace the glaring authenticity of a public record-keeping system for all transactions  – all to avoid a dystopian future where no markets exist except for under totalitarian rule? (Think of any post-apocolyptical society represented in popular Hollywood cinema)

Is this the continuation of the global equality movement underpinned by technology – such as open source softwares or free online college courses?

Or is this forced declaration of one’s records (financial, academic, professional, etc) exploiting technology and millennial zeal for transparency to satisfy the need of habitual whistle-blowers and conspiracy theorists?

Tell me what you think. Leave a comment below. Tweet at @marsonearth or @catalystwoman

 

Comoyo: The New OTT Messaging App on the Block?

With a  precious few minutes remaining on the battery, I was quickly scanning my timeline and saw Telenor’s announcement about launching S7 with VR Gear in Pakistan.  Not only do you get the gear for free if you are Telenor customer, you will get an opportunity to try out the Comoyo app.  Comoyo? I hadn’t heard of this application as of yet. I did what any self-respecting geek would do – I googled.

Comoyo is an OTT , Over-the-Top application, that bypasses traditional distribution to deliver a media and communication product or service over the internet.

You can think of an over-the-top application as anything that disrupts traditional billing models – from telcos or cable/satellite companies. Examples include Hulu or Netflix for video (replacing your regular TV provider) or Skype (replacing your long distance provider).  Source: Techopedia

The more I explored the features, Comoyo appears to be a sticker-heavy messaging + commerce platform that is emphasizing the use of digital Urdu font. Comoyo was developed by Telenor’s very own design/dev team at Telenor Digital.

Anyone else reminded of Line Pakistan?   Line Pakistan has been making it’s presence felt by utilising traditional media such a television adverts as well as social media campaigns centering around crowd-pleasers such as the Pakistani cricket team.

Line also offers voice calling,  messaging and video calling to it’s users for free.  In addition to that, the app is meant to be a platform for businesses to interact directly with consumers via ‘channels’ – from taking orders for a pizza to booking tickets to an upcoming movie release.    Any takers for Comoyo? Line?  I am willing to test out both simultaneously just to see how the experiences line up.

f04da2db11221329e9dd0bWhat would actually be exciting is when we get our digital payments issues sorted  in Pakistan and can start using OTT apps for a marketplace at the gargantuan scale of WeChat.  WeChat has captured the Chinese market by enabling users to make peer-to-peer payments as well as offline payments to participating retailers via WeChatPay.

What I’m reading today: Tech & Edu

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  • Mattel’s $300 3D printer lets you design and create your own toys

  • It’s no Silicon Valley, but Pakistan is building it’s own Startup Scene

  • For gifted children, being intelligent can have dark implications

  • Inside a Saudi Arabian Oil Giant’s American Oasis

  • Is majoring in liberal arts a mistake for students? (NOOO!)

Needed:Co-working Spaces in Lahore

My headphones are plugged in to what I imagine a shoreside picnic coupled with thunderclaps and slight rain shower sounds like. If you have ever wondered who is lame enough to actually use a rain sound app, that would be me. It can also be you, too, if you were camped out in a busy cafe in Lahore’s commercial district. 

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I’m attempting to stay focused on the upcoming meeting, while the couple at the table on the left has once again asked me for the wi-fi password.  Such interruptions, while normal if one is in the mood for people-watching or idle posturing in a swanky eatery, are frustrating if one is waiting to meet a client to finalize terms on a contract.

photo-1429681601148-75510b2cef43Office-less, officially, when it comes to our consulting work, my partners and I feel the need for a formal meeting room or conference room at least twice to three times a month. While that seems quite frequent, when we calculated the math, it still doesn’t make sense for us to invest in a permanent office in the near future.  Reasons being that some of us are still working traditional 9-5 jobs while others prefer the convenience of flex-time and telecommuting afforded by the consulting work-life.

What Lahore desperately needs is an affordable Co-working space which is open to all types of professional, techies and non-techies, entrepreneurs, freelancers, cottage-industry workers, bakers and yes, even musicians. 

What should the co-working space consist of? The usual, a conference room, a small kitchenette, desks or cubicles for hire by the hour or the day, reliable wi-fi/internet connection, a tv lounge/reception and a printer/fax machine corner to round off all the mundane necessities of grownup, office-life.

Let’s step beyond the vomit-inducing, Silicon Valley-esque marketing gibberish that immediately gets plastered upon the advent of a functional service idea.  This is not a recommendation for all of you sitting on your butts to open up 5 co-working spaces right across from each other in Bahria Town  and begin hosting ‘entrepreneurship workshops slash mentorship sessions slash fireside chats’  on the regular.  I am not claiming to be your guru for new-fangled business ideas.

What I am recommending is a more holistic, survey-based approach to solving challenges  your peers and neighbors are dealing with in your immediate vicinity. If you solve that challenge successfully, and lucratively, good on you!  If you fail to solve that challenge the first time around, no problem; you’ll have earned goodwill in the community. Rest your bruised ego, keep your eyes and ears open, and rise up tomorrow with the intent to put your education and initiative to good use.

Note: I have heard inklings of a co-w0rking space popping up in my hometown, but I’m curious if there are any others on the horizon. If you know of any, leave a comment or drop a tweet at @catalystwoman

 

 

Listed on Speakerinnen!

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Proud to be listed on the Speakerinnen website – that, too, highlighting my favorite topics to speak about – Empowering Women, Communications, Educational Technology and Employability Training. Kudos to the founders of the project; this is a great way to show support for balanced representation of both genders on the stage and across all other platforms (digital/virtual).

Looking forward to attending more conferences in 2016!