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Archive for the ‘Relationships’ Category

#1,026 – Sole Mate

The other day I wrote about Chuck McMarthy, an aspiring actor who had started a people walking service.  For $7 per mile you’d have yourself a friend for hire.  Or a therapist.  Or a security guard.

This got me thinking.  What other walking themed ideas might there be? How else can we put our bi-pedals to the mettle when the going gets tough?

What I came up with was a concept for a new hiking themed dating service known as Sole Mate.

I know, I know.  But just hear me out.

Dating is hard.  It’s expensive.  People are flaky.  If the first date feels awkward or forced there’s not going to be a second date.

So why not do something fun in a low pressure setting?  Something that’s free.  Something that you wouldn’t mind doing alone if you happened to get stood up.

That’s where hiking comes in.  It’s the absolute perfect first date.  Walk and talk at a gingerly pace to get to know your love interest.  Explore a cave or ancient ruins to add in an element of adventure.  Drop some knowledge on rock formations or various species of flora and fauna to show how smart you are.  Instead of constantly asking, “what did you just say?” over the roar of a crowded bar, ask, “how did that get like that?” or “why is that shaped liked that?”

What I’m imagining then is dating service in the spirit of How About We or It’s Just Lunch.  A service tailored towards busy working professionals who can spare an hour or two, here or there for a date, but who don’t want to commit to a long sit-down dinner with a total stranger.  Users could use the platform to seek hiking partners at locations that are convenient to them or the service could even host hikes at one specific location.  Imagine if you will, going on a hike and having a picnic for two waiting for you at the top of the mountain.  Or hiking one way and then taking a romantic sunset horse-back ride back to where you started from.  Conversely, there could even be group hikes if people would prefer an even more laid back atmosphere for meeting multiple people or just making friends with other like-minded singles.

The one drawback to this concept are the safety concerns. Is it really the best idea to follow a total stranger into the wilderness?  To get around that fear Sole Mate would vet all participants ahead of time and then adapt an Uber like rating system so that as time goes on hikers can evaluate one another and leave feedback for future daters on everything from conversation skills to walking pace.

Sure there are already a ton of other dating sites from Tinder and Bumble to Match and eHarmony.  Does the world really need another one?  In a word: yes.  After all, when it comes to dating, it’s always a good idea to put your best foot forward.

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Is a hiking dating service the Greatest Idea Ever?

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The other day I received a comment on Instagram that piqued my interest in a big way.  It read: “Based on your profile I’d say that we are kindred spirits.”

Why did that comment get my attention?  Because it came from, I kid you not, an actual real life super model. Granted, she wasn’t reaching out because she was attracted to me.  My Instagram account is dedicated to sunsets and barely features any pictures of me at all.  It’s likely that at the time she wrote that she had no idea what I looked like.  She was purely expressing her opinion that we were one in the same based on the types of pictures that I took and liked.  But I’m not going to let a tiny detail like reality discourage me.  If she really believes that we’re kindred spirits and took the time to reach out perhaps I have a chance.

To make a long story short, kindred spirit does not mean soulmate.  This alleged love of my life happened to already be married.  But her fandom got me thinking.  What if dating sites were more about aligning interests than analyzing assets?  What if people were drawn to each other instead of immediately drawing conclusions about one another?

What I’m envisioning is a new kind of online dating.  A modern age take on the concept of blind dating.  Instead of swiping through meaningless profiles filled with shirtless bathroom selfies users would instead peruse hand crafted collections of images that best define their potential love interests.  See someone who posted a bunch of nifty nature pictures and you’re likely to surmise that this is a person who likes the outdoors as much as you do.  Come across a photo of a wine bottle, Love Actually DVD, and box of pizza and you know that you just found a fellow hopeless romantic.  And so on and so forth.  It’ll be as if Tinder and Pinterest had a baby and it would be the best thing ever.

At first glance this idea may seem ridiculous but dive a little deeper and it begins to make sense.  Hinge, for example, has decided to do away with swiping citing data that suggests daters feel more lonely after swipe sessions.  What are they offering instead?  A new approach that emphasizes, yep, you guessed it, a person’s interests.  What I want to do then isn’t so far fetched after all.  It’s really just taking the trend that Hinge identified and amplifying it.  Making a feature the product.

Is it likely to work for everyone?  Nope.  Not at all.  People who hate taking the time to fill out surveys on Eharmony are going to hate this no picture approach.  But for everyone else?  For the people who allegedly value personality more than just looks?  Well, we might just have something.

Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go post some more pictures on Instagram.  You never know what kindred spirits or even soulmates it may attract.

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Is a kindred spirits dating app the Greatest Idea Ever?

 

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#892 – Peeple

It’s been called a Yelp for People.  A new app, known as Peeple, that allows users to review one another.  And while it may not sound like a great idea, seeing as how it’s ripe for cyber bullying, it also could be an inevitable side effect of our increasing online addiction, a precursor to a world where our online reputations are our most valuable currency.

The idea of an online reputation that follows us around isn’t new.  Your Klout score, which measures how much influence you have online, is another example of this new era.  And in theory, the idea has a lot of merit.  Perhaps people wouldn’t say such hurtful things on message boards, in comment threads, on profile pages, in tweets, if they knew that what they said would lower their personal credit score and follow them around for a while.

In fact, Peeple’s hoping that their app has that exact effect.  On their website, they state the following as their mantra of sorts:

“Looking at everyone in the three ways you could possibly know someone – personally, professionally and romantically – you can provide a recommendation on everyone you come in contact with, while allowing yourself to be recommended.  Once armed with these recommendations you can turn them into your new form of currency to get better job opportunities, better dates, growing relationships, and networking opportunities…

The site goes on to claim that the web was lacking a place where one could safely manage their online reputation and that with Peeple you could now do that.  However, users wouldn’t really be managing their online reputations.  If someone says something negative about you it’s not like you’ll be able to undo that damage.  And therein lies the rub.

As Fortune puts it:

“Peep sees its app as a place where people can showcase their finer qualities. However, the app could also be home to unfair and unflattering criticisms that could have an unfortunate impact on users’ lives.

For instance, a negative rating from a boss, coupled with a description on why you’re a bad employee, could mean the difference between getting the next job or remaining unemployed. Recommendations can be shared via social media or over text and email, and profiles can be “liked” and viewed by other Peeple users. So, if you allow negative reviews on your profile, they could be shared with more than just Peeple users.”

That fear of doing irreparable damage to a person’s professional career is likely going to sink Peeple’s chances of ever catching on.  Most people already hate the concept.  But the one area where I think the idea does have merit is in regards to the romantic aspect.  Rating daters solely within the confines of a dating service is something that I think should be a standard feature of dating sites.  That way you can gather feedback from a pool of your peers on whether or not someone is worth dating and at the same time no one outside of the dating app would be privy to the information.  A comment such as “nice guy, but there wasn’t a spark” could be helpful to someone considering going out on a date with someone and it won’t prevent that person from getting a job down the line.

Personally, I’m a fan of this concept even if it is a flawed system.  Our online personas already revolve around a constant stream of likes and favorites, a perpetual positive feedback loop that reinforces our belief system and encourages similar behavior.  Getting a positive rating on Peeple would feed right into that, encouraging us to keep up our good behavior so that more people will say more nice things about us.

Considering how dark the web can be shouldn’t we want something like Peeple that can shine a light on those who are doing good?

Is Peeple the Greatest Idea Ever?

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I’d like to think that I’m not easily persuaded by catchy jingles, clever slogans, or any other marketing ploy designed to get me to buy something that I would otherwise have no interest in.  I’ve also never understood why companies go so far as to hire celebrities to endorse their products.  Would someone really buy something just because The Rock told them to?  I certainly wouldn’t.

There is however, one notable exception to this rule.  The one time where I really did get suckered by a ad campaign into making a conscious decision to try something new.  The item in question was Axe body spray and I was convinced that if I used it I would be fighting off women with a stick, just like in the commercials!  News flash: that was false advertising!  Nothing changed!

The reason why I actually thought that something might change was because when it comes to the body’s hormones there’s a real chance, scientifically speaking, that you might actually be able to alter the body’s chemistry.  There are lots of naturally occurring substances that act like aphrodisiacs, increasing our body’s sex drives.  Not to mention pheromones that automatically trigger responses from members of the opposite sex.  Put those together and it’s easy to see why I would be duped by a deodorant company.

Despite my setback I’m not willing to give up on the idea of a product that could help me with the fairer sex.  After all, I need all the help I can get.  Thankfully, there may soon be something else that could help me out: an oxytocin based nasal spray that could make men appear 15% more attractive to women!

As I Fucking Love Science explains:

“The hormone Oxytocin is the body’s own love drug. While it’s most commonly associated with maternal bonding and cuddles, the hormone is also known to be linked to orgasms, trust between people, and loss of social inhibition. Its ability to alter behavior is so strong, scientists have already drawn comparisons between this ‘hug hormone’ and both alcohol and cannabis.  So, in a bid to better understand this hormone, researchers at the University of Bonn in Germany looked into how oxytocin-like chemicals affected the extent to which women found certain men sexually attractive.  In their experiment, the researchers gathered a group of 40 women in their twenties, all of whom were “passionately in love” with their partner. Half of these women were given a placebo while the other half inhaled a spray containing syntocinon, a synthetic form of oxytocin. They then swapped these groups around and gave the hormone to the ones who previously had the placebo, and vice versa.  After both sets of experiments, the groups were presented with photographs of their partner along with a selection of other men and asked to rank their level of attractiveness.  The results showed that a quick pump of the nasal spray made the women find their partners 15 percent more attractive…”

Take that Axe body spray!!

Of course this was just one experiment.  There is still so much that we don’t know about oxytocin and what else it’s capable of so it’ll be quite a while before this turns into a real product.  Hopefully, it does though.  Because as I mentioned earlier, I need all the help I can get.  Scientists, don’t fail me now!

Is a nasal spray that makes men appear 15% more attractive the Greatest Idea Ever?

 

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#771 – Vinder

The other day I wrote about LiveText, Yahoo’s new foray into social media that combines texting, live video, and the ephemeral experience of SnapChat into what Yahoo hopes is the Next Big Thing.  Something that becomes as widely used as each of its component parts.

When I heard about this new app I immediately began to wonder about what else could be created by taking successful stand alone services and combining them into something new.  What would happen, for example, if you took Instagram and combined it with Facebook?  Oh, wait.  That already happened.  Bad example.

A good example, on the other hand, is the idea that I did come up with: taking Vine and Tinder and combining it into a new video centric dating app known as Vinder.  The concept is simple.  Instead of swiping past static photos of potential love interests you’d instead see a quick six second Vine or SnapChat style video clip of the person.

This would bring online dating to life.  You’d be able to hear what someone sounds like, see what kind of personality they have.  Get to know the real them in a jiffy before making a snap decision. Isn’t that a better first date screening method than just looking at bathroom mirror selfies in a fraction of a second?

Or you could just use Vinder to begin with.

 

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The other day I was perusing a dating app when I came across my soul mate.  A well educated nerd with a passion for history and learning new things who likes to travel and do things outdoors.  So what did I do?  I rejected her of course.

I suppose that I could have tried to reach out anyway, made it clear up front that I wasn’t looking for anything romantic, and see if I could have become friends with this person.  But that wouldn’t have been fair to this individual.  They’re on a dating app because they’re looking for someone to date.  Not because they want to enter into a platonic relationship with someone they’re attracted to.

It bothers me though that I missed out on having the opportunity to befriend this person and the countless others that I’ve rejected or whom have rejected me based purely on looks.  Certainly there must be a better way?  I think there is.  All we’d have to do is create a dating app for friendships.

This app would work exactly like Tinder but instead of swiping right when you want to hook up with someone and left when you don’t you’ll swipe right when you want to befriend someone and left when you don’t.  Users’ profiles will contain a list of their hobbies and interests not just a favorite movie quote or song lyric.  Topless bathroom selfies will be replaced with pictures that are more representative of who a person really is.

Of course there are plenty of ways to make new friends.  You could join a meetup group that aligns with one of your interests.  But just because someone likes one of the same activities as you doesn’t mean you’ll click on all levels.  You could elect to get randomly assigned to a co-ed sports team.  But you might get randomly assigned to a bunch of beer drinking lunatics that you don’t get along with.

Befriending co-workers, neighbors, and friends of friends are all good options too but through it all there’s no guarantee that you’ll find someone who really gets you.  The kind of person that you might have three, four, five things in common with.  The kind of person that you could spend an entire day with and never run out of things to talk about.  The kind of person that you feel like you’ve known your whole life even though you just met them.

These people are out there.  I know they are.  In fact, they’re probably all around me as I speak.  Living in my apartment complex.  Working a block away from me.  Frequently the same restaurants as me.  Passing me on the street every day and not even realizing it.

Don’t you think it’s about time that we made it easier to find these people?  I do and I think a dating app for friendships is exactly what we need to get the job done.  Lock it up.  Championship.

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a dating app for friendship?

 

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In a recent article about dating Wired UK postulated the following:

“It’s a real 21st century conundrum: if we’re unable to meet people in real life, but disappointed in what we’re finding online, what’s the solution?”

That’s a question that I’ve been trying to answer for quite some time now. In fact, I’ve written about the topic eight times now on this blog! Eight times!!! That’s more than the number of times I’ve written about synthetic biology, quantum computing, and BitCoins combined!!!

A common theme that I’ve hit on is the fact that we should try to blend the digital and physical worlds. Something that would use the vast quantities of information that we have available to us to make it easier to find someone in real life. Something that would do the dirty work for us. Take the pressue off. Become the ultimate wing man.

I’ve come up with quite a few ideas that I think accomplish that but no actual products. Thankfully, San Francisco based design studio LUNAR has gone a step further than I did and actually created a couple of products as part of a recent project.

The first idea that they came up with is called Wizz, a stone shaped object that you can wear as jewelry that alerts you to when you are near a potential match. According to Wired, “The idea is that your information is pulled in from various social sites and dating platforms, and when you’re in the proximity of someone with like-minded interests, it’ll give you a little buzz. Think of it as Tinder and Highlight combined into a physical object.”

The second concept is reffered to as Connect. This is a wearable device that uses lights and icons to let other people know what you are all about and whether or not you are available. Here’s how it works according to Wired: “When you’re out and about, you slap it on and a glowing light acts as a beacon for other interested parties. A series of little charms communicate what your interests are or what you’re looking for in a prospective partner. ‘It provides a way to visually communicate to the guy or girl across the coffee shop, ‘Hey — I think you’re cute! You should come talk to me!’ as well as sets up the initial talking points to facilitate an easy conversation,’…”

This reminds of an idea I had previously wherein we would reinvent the mood ring. Here’s what I had to say about it at the time:

“These will be color coded rings that will have the same look and feel of mood rings but instead of being linked to your body chemistry they will be solid objects that won’t change colors. Rather each ring will denote the relationship status of the user. People who are looking for long term relationships will wear one color. People who just want to hook up another color and so on. This way it will be clear when you meet someone what their status is and what they are looking for.”

To be honest I’m not sure that any of these ideas are the be all, end all when it comes to solving the dating conundrum that continues to perplex society. While they all have some merit they also all have considerable flaws as they could draw unwanted attention to the user and also require mainstream acceptance in order to work effectively. I am, however, glad that this design firm is at least trying to tackle this problem. I’m not sure if there is ever going to be a definitive solution but I’m glad at least that someone besides me is trying to figure it out and that they have the wherewithal to make real products.  Hopefully, one of these products with actually catch on one day.

Is a piece of jewelry that alerts you to nearby suitors the Greatest Idea Ever?

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