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Beautiful Data by Toby Segaran, Jeff Hammerbacher

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Conclusion

Our data indicates that people hold some familiar stereotypes. Women are considered more attractive than men. Age has a stronger attractiveness effect for women than men. The space of social attributes falls along lines that feel familiar to us: jocks, fathers, attractive young women. But there are also some potential surprises: babies are most attractive, conservatives look more intelligent, etc. We also found examples of gendered words.

We're tempted to go on and on with suggestive findings, but the point of this chapter is not to come to any particular conclusion. Instead, we wanted to show some examples of the rich set of significant patterns contained in a large, messy data set of human judgments. A more rigorous data collection process—such as carefully controlled lab experiments—would never produce such a volume of data, but could be useful as follow-up experiments.

Every day we reveal more and more about ourselves through the things we buy, the websites we use, the queries we search for, the messages we send, and the places we go. Whether we like it or not, for the first time in human history all this data is being carefully saved. Setting aside the important privacy concerns, the value to social science is enormous. Through this mess of repurposed information, we will learn about ourselves in completely new ways.

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