by Timothy Lee
Mon, Oct 8th 2007 3:44am
Unlike Brad Stone at the Times tech blog, I think webcam-based speed dating is a promising idea, and if I were single I'd probably try it out. Stone points out two objections to the concept, neither of which seems especially compelling. One is that "for a certain demented kind of person, live Web cameras are an invitation for nudity and public displays of self-affection." That doesn't strike me as a very serious obstacle, though. For one thing, as any woman who's tried old fashioned online dating (is online dating old enough to be called "old-fashioned" yet?) will tell you, men already send women inappropriate pictures of themselves using traditional personals sites. Secondly, this kind of abuse should be pretty easy to deter by asking for contact information, perhaps verified with a credit card. Few men are likely to expose themselves on a site that's keeping a video recording of the conversation and has their contact information on file. The other objection is that "brief, Web-brokered Internet chat sessions might not be the best gauge of whether an enduring connection is possible." But that objection applies to any online dating service—yet lots of people find Internet dating useful. The point of online dating services (and real-life "speed dating" services, which have also become popular) isn't to decide who to marry, and it's never been a substitute for more traditional dates. The point is to help you efficiently find people who seem worth the time and expense of a first date. If a service like this helps you avoid a date where the girl stares at her plate and mumbles to herself the whole meal, that seems like time and money well spent.
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