So he signed up for 21 different online dating services — from to e Harmony — 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.
The word New York City used more than any other was, fittingly, ‘now.’ But Du Bois broke down the five boroughs in much more detail to examine the language used in different neighborhoods.
And the words certainly reveal their individual characteristics.
"I thought it would be interesting to do a counterproposal that doesn’t get any of the useful stuff and only gets the useless stuff.” The word most unique to Anchorage is ‘outdoorsy,’ though nearby areas also have ‘nippy’ and ‘berries.’ ‘Corsair,’ which also appears, was the name of a high-end French restaurant (which has since closed) that was likely a popular date spot when Dubois gathered the data.
He says restaurant names, major employers and sports teams often appear as the most-used word in a given city relative to anywhere else.
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.
The resulting maps of "A More Perfect Union" reveal not only where Americans are shy, but what folks from Tallahassee to the Tortugas post about most when looking to hook up.
To see Dubois' full interactive maps of dating words in cities and states, find "A More Perfect Union" on his website.
If Miami was dating, what would her profile look like? Du Bois's dating profile maps of the nation are soon on view in his first solo show at Sarasota's Ringling Arts Museum.
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.
That was more likely to happen in small towns or rural areas, however, than in cities.