How much does the metadata gathered in your inbox reveal about you? Quite a lot, judging by what researchers at the MIT Media Lab have managed to accomplish with Immersion. They've built a web app that — once you grant it permission to do so — digs through your email history to piece together a "people-centric view of your email life." What does Immersion look at, exactly? Only the senders, recipients (including those CC'd), and timestamps within your email archives. It steers clear of subject lines and the actual bodies of your messages. Still, the end result is fairly impressive depending on how much Immersion has to work with. What first appears to be an arbitrary list of people you've contacted is actually linked together in logical ways. (Again, this will depend largely on how far back your email trail goes.)
"All of this data is about people. Data basically doesn’t make sense without humans." César Hidalgo, one of the creators behind Immersion, told The Boston Globe. "When you see it all together, it is, in a way, an out-of-body experience." Your takeaway may not be that emotional, but Immersion succeeds in showing that, even with limited information like metadata, when collected in bulk, you can visualize the relationships contained within. You can try it at the source below, but keep in mind you'll need to grant MIT access to your Google account for the purpose.