I've spent the last few days playing around with Immersion, a fabulous email network mapping project from MIT's Media Lab. The project's creators describe this as "a people centric view of your email life" and what the tool basically does is create a network map of all your Gmail emails using the From, To, Cc, and Timestamp fields.
Who Have I Been Emailing?
You can can learn a lot from these maps. For example, here is what my email network looks like from April 2004 to July 2013. (I do actually have email from 1999 onwards in my Gmail account but, for whatever reason, Immersion only mapped my email from 2004 onwards. )
The person I emailed the most during this period was Nadia. After that, the network of people I emailed the most was my family. Obviously Nadia is also heavily connected via email to my family network. She is also connected with our Melbourne friends network and, to a smaller extent, my MBS (MBA) and LUMS (BSc) classmate networks.
The two other networks of people I emailed the most were my work colleagues at MBS and my other freelance jobs.
Digging a Little Deeper
That's a high-level view but you can also divide this 2004 to 2013 date range into three distinct periods in my life.
The first is from 2004 to 2006, which is when I was living in Islamabad just before I came to Melbourne to do my MBA:
Nadia and my family are obviously the largest nodes and network of nodes here, too. Aside from that, my LUMS classmates, my music projects (Corduroy and the F-10 1/2 project), and my other projects (earthquake relief) all have identifiable email networks of their own.
A couple on specific nodes are also interesting. Mosharraf, one of my seniors from LUMS and also a work colleague, is a connector of networks. And, on the upper right hand side, you can see my email correspondence with MBS starting to play a bigger role.
The next period, from 2006 to 2008, is while I was doing my MBA at MBS:
Here my MBS classmates network is a huge part of my emailing. That network also overlaps with the MBS staff network - from my emails to and from the Careers Centre team and my work colleagues from when I worked at MBS for a few months before graduating.
Emails to my LUMS classmates have dropped of quite a bit, though I was still emailing Amanullah quite regularly.
Finally, here is what my network looked like after I completed my MBA, that is from 2008 onwards:
Now a new network has popped up: my Melbourne friends outside of MBS. And, thanks to Facebook, I don't email my LUMS or MBS classmates as much as I used to.
That's really cool, isn't it? :)
Immersion also gives you a summary of your email stats, including who your top 'collaborators' are (and, if you want, you can also drill down further into your connections with each of these collaborators).
These are my overall stats and the stats for my two top collaborators:
Yes, that's 20,879 emails with 194 collaborators over 9.3 years :)
My most active email sending years were 2007-2008, which was when I was doing my MBA. My most active email receiving years were 2010-2012 and I think those were because of Nadia, my family, my Melbourne friends, and various mailing lists.
The group of people I email has stabilized over the last few years so the number of new collaborators I've been adding has dropped considerably. That's also because my Melbourne Water and Jetstar work emails aren't in Gmail so they're not counted here.
Finally, the two people I collaborate most with are Nadia and my older sister Asha. I like that I've sent Nadia over a thousand emails, of which about two-thirds were sent just to her. Meanwhile I've sent Asha only 515 emails. Of those 137 were sent just to her, which makes sense because she's part of that big family network.
So there you have it - my life in email.
If you use Gmail you should check Immersion out yourself. It's fun to use and you can learn a lot about yourself and your email networks in the process.