Immerse Yourself in Yourself
Via NPR’s Planet Money: an MIT project called Immersion that allows you to see how much of your life can be teased out from your email metadata. Using just the From, To, Cc and Timestamp fields on your Gmail, Immersion creates a color-coded map of correspondence that, at least for me, would probably represent the summation of my work and social relationships with great accuracy. Because metadata is an excessively timely issue, the site’s server has been temporarily overworked; you can still sign up to map your own email later (the irony of this is not lost on me, but you can erase the data immediately), or do a similar thing with your Facebook network with this Wolfram Alpha tool.
I just did the latter, wincing as I checked the terms & conditions box without reading the terms or conditions, and found out that my Facebook friends are 60% female, that 40% of these female friends are married already (vs 23% of my male friends), and that my network looks like the picture to the left (the central hub is surely college, and the WA tool spat out a list of my purple “insider” friends, green “connector” friends and gray, gray outsiders).
On a similar note, there was a recent This American Life where Ira talks to four lawyers who work with Guantanamo detainees, and thus for years have been assured that not just their metadata but their actual conversations are being recorded and monitored. They are more at peace with the situation than you might expect, or perhaps I am merely interpreting “peace” from the sound of “utter metaphysical weariness.”