How to Make Your Dating Site Attractive

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There’s a huge profusion of dating sites out there. From those focused on casual encounters to christian marriage, there’s a site for that.

So from a product management and privacy perspectives I found this article very thought provoking:

Bookioo does not give men any way to learn about or contact the female members of the site. Men can join for free, if they have been invited—and if a current Bookioo member can vouch for their information. They can then post a profile for the perusal of the female—and paying—members of the site. It’s those paying women, however, who get to call the shots.

As interesting as the approach is, what’s more interesting is how they came to it. They focused on a set of female customers, and asked what is it that they worry about, and what do they want? Co-founder David Olmos:

We think that women don’t feel comfortable with the current dating sites. The latter are too masculine: they were designed by men and they fundamentally address men’s needs. We know that many women prefer a different approach: they’re eager to socialize, to meet new people, and we propose to do that through activities. It may lead them to find a partner, of course, but they may as well enjoy an afternoon in a museum with a new girl friend whom they met Bookioo! So we propose to socialize through activities, common hobbies and common tastes.

As you can see, we actually want to revamp the “dating” concept, taking the perspective of women. The key issue for us is to make sure that women enjoy the level of privacy they wish and that the males’ profiles are fully validated. (“Bookioo: dating and social networking site gives women full control.”)

It’s also a very different approach to “creep management,” which we’ve covered in past posts like “Emerging dating paranoia,” “Dating and Background Checks in the UK” or “Dating & Background Checks in China

That's Some Serious Precision, or Watch Out, She's Gonna Go All Decimal!

So last night the family and I sat down and watched a little TV together for the first time in ages.  We happened to settle on the X-Games on ESPN, purely because they were showing a sport that I can only describe as Artistic Snowmobile Jumping.  Basically, these guys get on snowmobiles, jump them in the air flip around and stuff, and then a panel of judges score their efforts.  I suppose the criteria is like ice skating or gymnastics where they score creativity and technique and so forth…  If you haven’t seen this sport, here’s a little youtube video of what it’s like:

So we’re watching this sport on ESPN, and after a while I’m noticing a couple of things about the scores.  First, they’re using a 100 point scale, and all the scores are coming in between 85 and 92.  Fine, I suppose they’re summing up a number of elements.

Then this one rider scores an 88.3.  Point Three.  Seriously, what judge decides to go decimal?  You know, a 100 point scale isn’t good enough, I really need the precision of that tenth of a point to determine if the member of “Team Slednecks” is that much better than the “Red Bull Rockstars” or whatever.

Today in Tyrranicide History

On January 30th, 1649, Charles I was beheaded for treason. He refused to enter a defense, asserting that as monarch, he was the law, and no court could try him. That same defense is raised today by Milošević, Hussien and other tyrants.

The story of how John Cooke built his arguments against that claim is told in entertaining and accessible depth in “The Tyrannicide Brief” by Geoffrey Robertson.

As his website says, “Geoffrey Robertson QC has been counsel in many landmark cases in constitutional, criminal and media law in the courts of Britain and the commonwealth and he makes frequent appearances in the Privy Council and the European Court of Human Rights.” So he knows what he’s talking about, and he knows how to tell an engaging story.

The principle that no one is above the law is an important one. So today raise a glass and remember John Cooke.

Privacy and Security are Complimentary, Part MCIV

Privacy and security often complement each other in ways that are hard to notice. It’s much easier to present privacy and security as “in tension” or as a dependency.

In this occasional series, we present ways in which they compliment each other. In this issue, the Financial Times reports that “Hackers target friends of Google workers:”

Personal friends of employees at Google, Adobe and other companies were targeted by hackers in a string of recently disclosed cyberattacks…The most significant discovery is that the attackers had selected employees at the companies with access to proprietary data, then learnt who their friends were. The hackers compromised the social network accounts of those friends, hoping to enhance the probability that their final targets would click on the links they sent.

If friends lists were not being aggregated, this attack would have been harder to execute. How much harder is tricky to judge without more information about possible attack vectors.

Also, this is a nice example of the sort of externality that Facebook imposes on the networks of their users. Because Facebook exposes the fact that we’re friends, I have to treat communications from my friends with more suspicion.

Quote For Today

Their judgment was based on wishful thinking rather than on sound calculation of probabilities; for the usual thing among men, is when they want something, they will, without any reflection, leave that to hope; which they will employ the full force of reasoning in rejecting what they find unpalatable.

— Thucydides

The Lost Books of the Odyssey

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You should go read The Lost Books of the Odyssey. You’ll be glad you did.

I wrote this review in April of 2008, and failed to post it. Part of my reason is that I have little patience for, and less to say about most experimental fiction. I am in this somewhat like a luddite, unwilling to tolerate experiments which ought to have been kept confined to a laboratory. And so, knowing that this book won a prize worried me greatly, but for reasons which I’ll get to in a moment, I persevered, and I’m glad that I did.

The “lost books” consist of very short stories, usually of a few pages or so. The context, is of course, the Odyssey, and the actions of its heros and villians.

It falls into that class of writing which is simply a delight to read. The stories are beautifully crafted, surprising and casting new lights on old stories.

The richness and character of the writing is exceptional and engaging, all the more so for the origin and nature of the work. As Zachary Mason explains in the introduction, “The Lost Books of the Odyssey” were in fact lost and recovered, in a feat perhaps nearly as impressive for its cryptanalytic acumen as for its literary importance.

It is entirely worth reading, and since I first read it, it has been winning substantial literary prizes, and the New York Times calls it “dazzling.”

Finally, I should mention that Zachary and I were roommates at Miss Hall’s School for Precocious Youth in Arkham, Mass. I would like to offer my most sincere apologies for anything he remembers.

[Updated, fixed a spelling error]