A people-centric view of your Gmail inbox

Posted to Network Visualization  |  Tags: ,  |  Nathan Yau

Immersion by the MIT Media Lab is a view into your inbox that shows who you interact with via email over the years.

Immersion is an invitation to dive into the history of your email life in a platform that offers you the safety of knowing that you can always delete your data.

Just like a cubist painting, Immersion presents users with a number of different perspectives of their email data. It provides a tool for self-reflection at a time where the zeitgeist is one of self-promotion. It provides an artistic representation that exists only in the presence of the visitor. It helps explore privacy by showing users data that they have already shared with others. Finally, it presents users wanting to be more strategic with their professional interactions, with a map to plan more effectively who they connect with.

The base view is a network diagram where each node represents someone you’ve exchanged email with. The more emails between you and that person, the bigger the node, and people who tend to email each other (I’m guessing a count of CCs and group emails) are placed closer to each other. There’s also some clustering going on, which does a nice job of putting people in groups, such as family and work, and a time slider lets you see these relationships over time.

We’ve seen views of our inbox before and they usually just show simple time series charts and people who you email most. Immersion does a bit more and is a nice way to reflect. Even though I stopped using Gmail as my main address a couple of years ago, the college, pre-grad school, and early grad school years were obvious.

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