Here's a question about dating websites: Why are they websites? Why aren't they apps, layered neatly and efficiently on top of their users' existing social identities? Given how much of our lives are now lived online, why isn't dating more seamlessly integrated into our broader experiences of the social web?
The most obvious answer is that the sites we think of when we think of online dating -- Match.com, OKCupid, JDate, eHarmony, etc. -- built themselves as independent businesses. And that they did so before Facebook became the social-graph-owning juggernaut it is today. Another answer is that there's an appeal, to many users, to keeping one's dating life separate from one's broader social life. For purposes of privacy or safety or whatever else, perhaps "prismatic identity" applies to dating just as it applies to the rest of our digital experience. So, while web-based matchmaking has long ago lost its stigma, the dating industrial complex still operates on a common assumption: Friends (and family, and colleagues) are here; dating is there.
A new app wants to change all that. Yoke, the creation of Rob Fishman, former social media editor at the Huffington Post, and Jeff Revesz, the HuffPo's former director of social news tech, is an "an intelligent matching layer" that sits on top of Facebook. Yoke integrates one's dating life and one's broader social life not in a "Hey, colleagues, I just met this dude on Facebook!" kind of way, but in a way that tries to make online dating much more like the dating that takes place outside of the Internet: connections made not via profiles and photos and complex matching algorithms, but through the serendipity of shared friends and interests. The app, Fishman tells me, is trying to approximate dating as it's done in real life -- and "real life" increasingly involves Facebook. There's an efficiency aspect to that thinking, as well: Yoke assumes that most people who are looking to date would actually rather have those dates served up on the site they spend so much of their time on anyway.