With all the recent talk of NSA snooping, the topic of meta-data has reached the consciousness of the mass market, and so I thought it would be interesting to look at what one can do with meta-data. Immersion is a tool released by the MIT Media Lab about a week ago. If you’re willing to give them access to your gmail account, they can show you what your social network looks like. And, perhaps more interestingly, how it changes over time. For example, I no longer live in the U.S. This is how my “network” looked for the 2.5 years before I moved out of the country:
Whereas here is what it looks like for the first 2.5 years I lived abroad:
Now, presumably, most people don’t have changes in their social network as sweeping as those inspired by moving continents. But you can easily imagine how seeing the change in the network of an individual can imply certain things (e.g., imagine the slow growth over time of connections to people who are themselves connected to suspected terrorists).
PS, to Mr. Will, Mr. Aubin, and Melissa, and all the friends for whom they are the center, apologies — apparently I need to do a better job of staying in touch!