Past Event

Data, Democracy and the Human Story: A Conversation with Christian Rudder

Do data and poetry have anything in common?

The phenomenon known as “big data” is revolutionizing the way businesses, governments and citizens collect and use information. Join the Illinois Humanities Council for a conversation with Christian Rudder, OKCupid co-founder and author of the best-selling Dataclysm, as we discuss how this information explosion influences the way we understand our culture.

In the first installment of IHC’s new program series, “Data, Democracy and the Human Story,” Jillana Enteen, author and Senior Lecturer in Gender and Sexuality Studies at Northwestern University, will talk with Rudder on his groundbreaking work in data analytics. They will discuss how data might shed new light on some of our society’s most enduring questions. What does it mean to approach “human” topics, like romantic attraction or racial bias, through numbers? What can data science and the humanities learn from each other?

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Photo by Victor G. Jeffreys IIChristian Rudder is one of the founders of OKCupid, one of the largest dating sites in the world. He still runs it day-to-day, while also heading a small data-mining team that scours the digital universe for meaningful trends on important sites. The original outlet for Rudder’s research took place on OKCupid’s blog, OKTrends, which was not only read by millions of people, but also changed the way companies approach data as a media-relations strategy. His research and findings have been featured repeatedly in The New York Times, Harper’s, The Atlantic, and were the subject of a New Yorker feature. Graduating Harvard cum laude, with a math degree, Christian Rudder got his start as the Creative Director for SparkNotes, a sort of 21st century Cliff’s Notes for the Internet.

Jillana Enteen is a Senior Lecturer in Gender & Sexuality Studies and serves on the Asian American Studies and Asian Studies Program Faculty at Northwestern University. She is co-founder and co-convener of NUDHL, Northwestern’s Digital Humanities Lab. A former Fulbright Fellow to Thailand, she specializes in Thai culture and literature in English as well as non-Thai depictions of Thailand. Enteen’s publications concern online depictions of race, gender, sexuality, and nation in English by overlooked internet populations and the use of English language terms for sexualities and genders in the urban cultures of Thailand. She is the author of Virtual English: Queer Internets and Digital Creolization and Import/Export: English Language terms for Genders and Sexualities in Thailand.

This program is sponsored in part by the Smart Chicago Collaborative and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation and presented in partnership with the School of the Art Institute (SAIC).



If you need a sign interpreter or require other arrangements to fully participate, please call 312.422.5580 at least 72 hours prior to the event. For parking locations near the facility, please visit

For more information, please call 312.422.5580.