The Internet has advanced far beyond the realm of dial-up, and now acts as a record of your past and present.
Touted as a "people-centric view of your entire life," the Immersion application compiles data gleaned from your past communication, personal and professional history, and creates a visual map based on your digital identity.
The creators, Cesar Hidalgo, Daniel Smilkov and Deepak Jagdish -- all hailing from MIT -- say that the application is about "self-reflection, art, privacy and strategy, and 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."
Once logged in, the web application uses the From, To, Cc and Timestamp fields of your email account, without touching the title or subject. However, even without investigating this data, it's surprising how much information about your life the app is able to analyze in only one minute.
The app was able to tell me who I communicated most with, which people introduced me to whom (with a fair amount of accuracy), the separation between colleagues in different global teams and family, and who I am closest with. In other words, tools like this can easily be used by governments to process vast amounts of personal metadata without needing to delve into the actual contents of an email -- in mere seconds.
Try it for yourself for a glimpse into how privacy works in the world of Big Data. If you're concerned about the system having access to your metadata, don't worry -- you can choose to delete the data upon log out.
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com