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A Date with JDate

If one looks at dating along the terms of evolution, one will find a lot of surprising and unnerving changes within the span of a few decades.

In its earliest, most primitive form, the dating part of arranged marriages lasted within the space of a few minutes when the bride and groom saw each other across the expanse of a room, just prior to the actual rites. In more fortunate circumstances, parents hired the services of a matchmaker for their children of marriageable age.

Then it progressed to a beau's restricted and chaperoned visits, to dinner and a movie, to the infamous one night hook-ups. It has come to the point where it is perfectly normal during dates to inquire of your companion's medical history and financial status, even to the extent of doing a full background check over the Internet.

Then along came online matchmaking. In this new medium, using a new technology called the Internet, dating took a leap forward along its evolutionary chain. Personal ads websites provided databases of names, photos and streaming video accompanied by some information like gender, age and location. And although a bit more sophisticated and in more details, it still has that familiar ring to the services offered by village matchmakers of the past. From this database, web singles make choices for potential dates.

Instead of lumbering off to a slow start, however, online matchmaking raced ahead at broadband speed, aided by rapid technological advancements that brought audio, video and even virtual first dates where single people could meet and greet the widest number of prospective partners without ever having to take a step out the front door.

Internet personals services sprouted and flourished in the hundreds, from the usual boy-meets-girl online networks, to branching out and including ethnic, religious, and other preferential relationship specializations. The more users flocked to these web singles sites, the bigger they grew as more people realized the potential of this new way to date. Mergers and acquisitions became almost commonplace, attested by this example, and major cyberdating conglomerates eagerly presented their IPO's. At present, the online personal ads business remains the fastest growing industry on the Internet, with revenues projected to reach the $900 million mark by 2011.

Because web matchmaking has evolved into a mainstream business, the industry has started to undergo "professionalization", with more concentration placed on keeping each company's brand intact. Some internet personals services have more closely monitor and rid off the seedier profiles, members with criminal backgrounds or those who provide deceptive profile descriptions. More services are seen to be provided, and matchmaking websites will keep adding additional features to make them more interactive – and profitable.

In fact, online dating technology is set to latch one of its reach into the mobile phone industry. Web personal ads services will become available via everyone's cell phones, making Bluetooth, SMS and 3G video services as widespread as matchmaking websites are today. Because the core of human nature is the desire for physical interaction, the future of integration of love with technology will continue to be made more available to more singles, even outside of the dating websites themselves.

Posted at 11:27 AM on Jan 29, 2008 By

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