Love Data Week: Online dating expert talks data (and 5 tips for online dating)

Dating and data might seem an unlikely pair.

But not to Skyler Wang.

Wang is an online dating expert (and third-year Ph.D. student in UC Berkeley’s Department of Sociology) who studies online dating and the sharing economy. For his work, Wang relies on ethnographic data, interviews, and observations of how people navigate dating apps, first dates, and the like. (His dissertation will compare the online dating habits of people living in New York and Shanghai, the biggest cities in their respective countries.)

And he has also noticed another use for data when it comes to online dating.

“I have a lot of … friends who rely on spreadsheets (to analyze their online dating experiences),” he said, with those spreadsheets used to track everything from physical characteristics, like height, to overall impressions of dates. “I think it’s a pretty Bay Area phenomenon, where people are really driven by this quantitative logic, and they want to really get down to what works and what doesn’t so they can make more efficient decisions about love.”

Wang uses the Library quite a bit — the physical space as a quiet place to write, and the online portal to find articles and books. (“It’s pretty integral to my research experience here at Berkeley,” he said.)

In honor of Love Data Week — and in keeping with its theme, data in everyday life — we sat down with Wang for a chat. (The Library is co-sponsoring a slate of events for Love Data Week.)

Along with asking him about how he uses data, we also called upon his expertise, probing him for tips on how to navigate the online dating world.

He dispensed guidance on everything from which photo you should lead with to one major profile faux pas.

Watch our video to learn more.