A recently launched online service offers a visual representation of the email metadata scooped up by the NSA and England’s intelligence agency GCHQ by organizing your inbox according to the people with whom you correspond.

Immersion is a project of MIT and currently works only with Gmail accounts. The program’s website says it accesses users’ From, To, CC and Time Stamp fields to build a map of their email lives — not the subject or content of the messages. Customers have the option to save or delete their data upon logging out.

Potential users may be drawn to the service as a way to see how intelligence agencies could use metadata to get a sense of whom people talk with and how often, for the ostensible purpose of building profiles of those deemed to be potential or known enemies of the state for legitimate or other reasons, including simple political persecution.

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.


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.

So Immersion is not about one thing. It’s about four. It’s about self-reflection, art, privacy and strategy. It’s about providing users with a number of different perspectives by leveraging on the fact that the web, and emails, are now an important part of our past.

Read more and try it

Immersion: Beneath the surface from Deepak Jagdish on Vimeo.


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