Themail, electronic mail content relationships


Themail is a project developed by Judith Donath (MIT Media Labs), Fernanda B. Viégas (IBM Research) and Scott Golder (HP Laboratories). The starting point of the research is: the majority of internet usersseem to store an impressively growing amount of email messages. The author’s hypotesis is that the more this amount of messages stored in an archive grows the more the possibility of obtaining important data on the type of email relationships increases. Themail is an offline application that analyzes the content of an email archive and then graphically visualizes the traffic related to a specific person. It ‘reads’ the messages’ body and not only the subject, of course. Different columns visualizes every ‘epistolary relationship’, organized on a temporal basis (monthly and yearly) and different width and colors are used for the recurrency or the univocity levels. In these columns every mail sent is representd with a small circle. Actually Themail can shape an easy to read ‘portrait’ of our online conversations, of their frequency, of their evolution in time, and of the discussion topics related to specific interlocutors. The risk is to discover to have wasted lots of time talking about trivial stuff, but there’d be no reason for considering the mediated digital comunications less banal than most of the human ones.

Vito Campanelli