I'm very excited to announce a new spin-off from the Netflix competition. Online dating. For the last few months, I've been working with a dating expert (Nick Tsonis) to see if we can improve the way in which people find dates.
Well, our first dating recommendation system went live last month. www.yesnomayb.com Its early days to calculate whether its adding to the sum of human happiness, but first results are very, very promising. Its already taken over as the main method of finding potential dates on the site. Even with its relatively rudimentary implementation, it's preferred roughly 60/40 over the more traditional search mechanism (I'm a boy looking for a girl aged between 25-30, non-smoker etc etc).
What this suggests, in the first instance, is that when searching for hedonic items (i.e. those chosen on the basis of the pleasure they might bring (books, music, dates etc )), its very difficult to describe to a search engine exactly what you are looking for. Discovery processes based on analysing yours, and everyone elses, actual behaviour provide a better method of getting you to your desired target.
With further launches on other dating sites planned for September, October and January - we should be able to start to collect even more data on what works best in helping people find their ideal dates and, hopefully, make a sea change to the way online dating works.