A new project of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab shows Gmail users visualizations of the metadata of their e-mail activity. The tool, called “Immersion,” says it offers “a people-centric view of your email life using only your metadata.”
The website creates visual depictions of the kind of data tracked by some of the NSA’s recently revealed surveillance programs. Tracking the “From,” “To,” “CC,” and timestamp information on e-mails, Immersion creates a web of connections that illustrates a user’s Internet footprint. Below is a sample created by the website:
Each circle represents an individual contact, with larger circles representing more frequent connections. The circles are connected with lines that show networks of people in contact. Clicking on an individual circle zooms in on a new page that shows all the people with whom that individual is connected.
Immersion assures users that it’s very sensitive to privacy concerns, and offers the ability to delete the image of one’s metadata when logging off.