When US Census is collected, the data paints a certain picture of the country — we learn about age ranges, population sizes and common professions.
But R. Luke Dubois, an artist, composer and professor of digital media, wanted to track Americans in a different way. Dubois, who creates interpretive representations of data, decided in 2010 to map the United States based on the words used in online dating profiles.
So he signed up for 21 different online dating services — from Match.com to eHarmony — and programmed an automated system to create profiles in every zip code of the country. Then he used a spider — a specialized program that crawls the entirety of a site and downloads all the information within it — to download all the profiles of potential matches. In total, he wound up with 19 million dating profiles.
The effort took 10 computers three months, and once he had the data, he used it to create an alternate census. He took a map of the United States and created an algorithm that replaced every city’s official name with the word that was used more often in profiles there than it was anywhere else.
Take a look at what the dating profiles in Dubois' project, called "A More Perfect Union," show about US cities.
Los Angeles, California
Dubois says he chose to highlight the word used more in a certain area than anywhere else because otherwise the map would look too homogeneous. “If you just did the most common words, everything would be ‘love,’ and in Los Angeles it would be ‘sex,’” he tells Business Insider.
LA’s words include 'lingerie,' 'booty,' 'spanking,' and, of course, ‘screenwriter.’
“I don’t know how anyone gets a date in Washington, DC because they’re the most boring words in the world,” Dubois jokes.
Around Dupont Circle and Logan Circle, the city’s map features lots of international words — 'Paraguay,' 'Estonia,' 'Kashmiri' — as well as others one might expect to find in the nation’s capital, such as ‘political,' 'socially,' and 'journalist.'
The area around Boston uses the word ‘people’ in dating profiles more than any other city, though close behind are ‘drinks,’ ‘laugh,’ and unsurprisingly, ‘Sox.’
Dubois says his motivation in creating the project was to create a map of how people around the country think and talk about their own identities. “I was looking for a body of data that could get at ordinary Americans describing themselves,” he says.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider