Sunday, August 4, 2013

Social Networks, Email, and Metadata

David Glance

Researchers at MIT’s Media Lab have created an application called Immersion, which uses your email to display all of the people you communicate with in a highly visual way. Although it was designed primarily as a way of illustrating a person’s connections and social networks, it has served to highlight the amount of information that is encoded in communication metadata and what can be done with that data without even needing the actual content of emails.

This is especially relevant at the moment with the revelations that the US secret service has been engaged in widespread surveillance using email and other personal data sourced from companies such as Google, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft.

Email metadata refers to information such as the sender and recipients of an email. On its own, this information may not be particularly very interesting, especially if as in my case, it is one of 53,129 emails that is in my work Gmail account

Read it all here.

David Glance is Director at the Centre for Software Practice at University of Western Australia.

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