21 Ways to Visualize and Explore Your Email Inbox

Posted to Visualization

Email has grown to be a huge part of our lives and is very much commonplace. We can connect with others in just a few clicks. With all the email sent per day, how can we understand these connections? How can we visualize the type of email we've been sending? Can we tell a story somehow with the thousands of emails we've sent, received, and deleted?

These 21 email visualizations investigate. I've split them up into six categories - exploratory, analytic, mapping, metaphor, networks, and abstract.

Exploratory

We almost always think of email in list-form - read, unread, spam - but here are a group of visualizations that show you email differently and encourage users to explore their inbox.

Mountain

It's the mountain of email by Fernanda Viegas from the IBM group.

Mountain

Enron Explorer

I posted about this in 6 Influential Datasets that Changed the Way We Think. When did Enron start going under?

Enron Explorer

Themail

Themail splits your emails into keywords and phrases.

Themail

Contrasting Portraits

Contrasting Portraits

Analytic

How can we look at email from a quantitative perspective?

Rhythms of Relationships

Rhythms of Relationships

Dynamic Coordinated Email

Dynamic Coordinated Email

Mapping

Email mysteriously floats around in some network, but here are some maps that try to attach location to our messages.

Small World Email Networks

Small World Email Networks

Spam Map

Of course there's going to be tons of Google Maps mashups. I'll just put this one - once you've seen one, you've seen them all.

Spam Map

ForwardTrack

Created by Eyebeam in collaboration with Stamen.

ForwardTrack

Using Metaphor

Instead of messages, we can think of email with metaphors. Oftentimes, metaphors make complex ideas easier to understand.

Mail Garden

Each plant is an email.

Mail Garden

Spam Plants

Spam isn't just the best canned meat ever, it's also now a plant.

Spam Plants

Anymails

It's like animals. Emails are animals that cluster in herds.

Anymails

3D Mailbox

In attempt to make email fun, 3D Mailbox places it in a virtual world.

3D Mailbox

Forming Networks

We'll send an email and make a connection. These visualizations show those virtual connections.

My Map

My Map

BuddyGraph

Buddy Graph

Thread Arcs

Thread Arcs

Making Connections

Jamin Hegeman

Abstract

Returning to theme of data-driven art, here are some email-driven pieces and artworks. They're not graphs and charts and not really anything concrete. Instead, they look for the inner beauty in something that feels so mechanical.

Spam Recyler

Spam Recycler

SpamPaint

SpamPaint

Spam Architecture

Spam Architecture

Texone Spam

Texone Spam

Phew, that was a lot, and yet, I'm 100% sure that I missed some, so if you know of any that aren't listed, leave a link in the comments below.

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