Ayn Rand & The Atlasphere in Chicago Tribune

Linda Rodriguez of the Columbia News Service has an article in today’s Chicago Tribune discussing the Atlasphere’s dating service [registration required] and its, er, founder:

As a 30-year-old doctoral candidate in psychology at the University of New Mexico, Joshua Zader saw philosophy as a common ground for love interests. Thus he launched his Internet dating site on Nov. 1, 2003.
Tastefully accented in green with a dark blue background, the Web site features pictures of happy couples who, like site visitors themselves, are presumably all aficionados of the work of Ayn Rand, creator of the philosophy known as objectivism and author of “The Fountainhead” and “Atlas Shrugged.”

Actually, they’re stock photography models. One day we may replace them with member photos.

Zader started the site to bring together people sharing their common interest.
“When you have a very strong artistic response to something like a novel, there’s a very strong chance that your soul mate also had the same reaction,” said Zader, who met his wife at an Ayn Rand conference. “You can be sure that they have similar life views.” […]
Samantha Johnston, a 41-year-old Portland, Ore., resident who plans to go to law school after completing a degree in philosophy, has been a user of Zader’s Atlasphere dating service since it was launched.
Though she hasn’t met her love-match yet, she is confident that it could happen, especially since the odds are in her favor: There are 382 male members on the site and 97 female members.
“You tend to find `The Fountainhead’ or `Atlas Shrugged’ when you’re in high school or college, and the ideas resonate so deeply with you that it tends to carry you through the rest of your life,” she said.
“You’re hoping to find someone who reflects that back at you.” […]
The backbone of online dating’s niche sites is acceptance, understanding and common interests, something that many people are finding more and more difficult to find on larger, more general sites.
“I tried Match.com and Yahoo personals, and I got a lot of hits that way,” Johnston said. “But they were from people whose philosophical differences were almost diametrically opposed to mine, so I unsubscribed within a few months.” Match.com, for one, has nearly a million subscribers.
Johnston was ecstatic to find Atlasphere. “There’s just a lot that you don’t have to explain about yourself,” she said. “You’re starting out on a much higher level of compatibility that you just don’t get at other sites. At other sites, you have to do a lot more mining.”

See the full article for more discussion of the advantages of niche dating.