A New Vision For Online Dating: A Profile In Pictures
The online magazine Ozy covers people, places and trends on the horizon. Co-founder Carlos Watson joins All Things Considered regularly to tell us about the site's latest discoveries.
This week, Watson tells guest host Eric Westervelt about yet another online dating model coming down the pike — one where user profiles are built completely from images. And it's not just a bunch of selfies, either.
They also discuss how safety and security in Rwanda's capital Kigali has made the city a hub for foreigners, 20 years after the genocide.
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ERIC WESTERVELT, HOST:
From NPR West, it's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Eric Westervelt.
It's time for the New and the Next.
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WESTERVELT: Carlos Watson is the co-founder of the online magazine Ozy. Each week, he joins us for a taste of the eclectic mix of stories on the site. Carlos, nice to meet you.
CARLOS WATSON: Eric, it's really good to join you.
WESTERVELT: So throughout this month, Carlos, we've been hearing lots of mostly depressing stories about Rwanda's past. It's been 20 years since the genocide in that country. You have a different story about a different of Rwanda's capital, Kigali. It's becoming something of a draw for foreigners. Tell us why.
WATSON: It's an incredible story. As you said, 20 years ago nearly a million people lost their lives in 100 days, but to visit the East African country, and particularly the capital, Kigali, you find incredibly clean streets - many call it the cleanest capital in Africa - paved roads, in some cases, expensive coffee shops.
It's been an amazing renaissance of that city, and it's lead to a dramatic surge in the number of ex-pats who live there - Germans, Americans, Canadians, Saudis and others.
WESTERVELT: I mean, this is a country that lost 10 percent of its population in the genocide. It's interesting that 20 years later one of the big draws to the city is safety and security.
WATSON: It is, and it's been a double-edge sword. Most people champion it and say that the safety, the low level of corruption have made it an interesting place to live, to do business - from FedEx to Coca-Cola and back - but you do hear a handful of people say it feels like democracy is a little stifled here. It feels like it's tough to speak out and challenge President Kagame's government. But then again, perhaps that's the tradeoff in the early stages.
WESTERVELT: Yeah, it will be interesting to watch how the city evolves over the next few decades. OK, now on a bit of a lighter note, it seems like there's a new twist to the online dating model all the time, and another one is coming down the pike, one that doesn't use words when you create your profile. Tell us about it.
WATSON: It's called Dreamcliq. It just started this year by a young graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, Melissa Jones, and her feeling was that a lot of words often obscure who the person really is, and what might matter more - their images.
Not surprisingly, she's a more visual person. And so she created something called Dreamcliq where your portfolio or mine wouldn't be 600 or 800 words, but 24 or 25 pictures, and they might be grouped by titles like Arts and Books, or Travel and Leisure. After seeing someone's kind of visual portfolio, you can then decide to send them a message, or as they call it, send them a click.
WESTERVELT: So this is kind of the Pintrest of online dating, but Carlos, you know, what if I don't know how to impress someone with images? Is there help for the design-challenged among us?
WATSON: They, in fact, gather a number of interesting images that you can pull from and create something really nice and strong and distinctive whether it's a beautiful sunset, whether it's the cover of a particular book, and so those end up becoming a little bit of a common language and allow people to see things they love and recognize, pull those and post them, and then allow ultimately other people to reach out.
WESTERVELT: Now, startups often struggle with how to monetize their product, Carlos. This has an interesting business model. You have to pay to send a message to your potential date.
WATSON: Very, very interesting. I mean, you've got free sites, like OK Cupid and Plenty of Fish. You've got sites like Match.com and EHarmony, where you probably pay 30, 40, 50 bucks a month, but here you pay $2.50 a message. And for those who kind of go, ouch, they say the person who's receiving your click knows that you really value it, that you actually had pay for it, and so it's got greater weight.
WESTERVELT: Carlos Watson is the co-founder of the online magazine Ozy. You can explore all of the stories we talk about at npr.orgnewandnext. Carlos, thanks again.
WATSON: Eric, really good to be with you.
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