How You Can Visualize Your Gmail History

The MIT Media Lab’s new Immersion tool turns anyone’s Gmail history into a detailed data visualization–and also shows what metadata reveals about you and your email contacts.

A data visualization team at the MIT Media Lab wants Internet users to know what Google knows about them through their email… and they want it to look good, too. Immersion creates “a people-centric view of your email life using only your metadata” that charts interpersonal relationships between Gmail users. Anyone can sign into the site, which gives MIT permission to access Gmail account metadata and then build visualizations out of the data attached to users’ emails.

As the National Journal‘s Brian Fung notes, the data used to build the visualizations closely matches the metadata that law enforcement and intelligence agencies use in their investigations. It’s also similar to the metadata that the NSA archives en masse from American citizens.

For civil liberties activists, its a fascinating look at what secrets Gmail accounts can spill. For everyone else, it’s an easy-as-pie way of turning years of emails into pattern-uncovering visualizations. Either way–it’s an interesting window onto your life and email habits.

About the author

Based in sunny Los Angeles, Neal Ungerleider covers science and technology for Fast Company. He also works as a consultant, writes books, and does other things.



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