Why Am I Building Nanaya?

Whether it’s having a morning coffee, running to catch the bus, or getting to work – I always ask myself “Why am I doing this?” Even if I know why and even if there’s an answer, should I be satisfied? Am I living up to my own ideals? How do I even know if I’m doing the right thing?

When the idea for Nanaya came up it was as a curiosity. I had a theory for romantic decision analysis and I wanted to know if it would work. I had always used my skills to assess science and engineering – could I apply it to sociology?

When I first built the prototype, it actually seemed to work! But we all make mistakes so I asked colleagues and friends to review the Nanaya algorithm. Did I miss something big? Was my treatment of statistics right? Was anything wrong? Review after review, people were impressed. Everything seemed on target. Having a working, consistent algorithm and plenty of friends who were curious the question soon became “Do I really want to make this for everyone?”

I do have a philosophical issue with putting numbers to emotions. Love, fear, faith, passion, and all the feelings that make us human are so hard to express to other people let alone to put into numbers. I consider a problem in many relationships: what one person calls “love” and how they act it out might be different from their partner’s understanding of love. If two people in love, sharing the most intimate of moments, can’t share the meaning of a bond that brings them together – how can we even put numbers to it? The answer to this question will be the topic of future posts.

With this in mind, I want to be clear about intentions for Nanaya.

I wrote on the main page that Nanaya is not being developed to make a decision for the user but to be the beginning of a process. This is how we use similar tools in NASA, at the very beginning of designing a space mission. Whether you are single or in a relationship, Nanaya should be the springboard from which life decisions are contemplated, such as convincing yourself to be more social or where to move. Especially in a relationship, Nanaya should spur frank conversations that were being avoided or to affirm couples they are on the right track.  No matter what the output is, it is there to inform and affirm – not to make decisions for you.

I made Nanaya to encourage honesty and to bring people together.  While there are numbers that come out of Nanaya, I truly believe one of its greatest values is the very act of using it. Just filling out the information that the Nanaya algorithm needs forces you to put your romantic and life goals in perspective. Looking at your possible futures is like staring into a mirror – it forces self-awareness.

It is my deepest of hopes that it is used to bring honesty, self-awareness, and happiness to others. This is why I decided to build Nanaya for everyone.