What can we learn from our E-Mail logs?

Recently I’ve been observing via RescueTime that I spend 3 hours or more hours in my e-mail application most days.  However, I don’t have a good breakdown of how much of this is scheduling, looking up information, commenting on something substantive or social discourse.  There is a tremendous amount of information locked up in the time-series of e-mail’s sent and received that can provide insight into aspects of my behavior such as focus of attention (time of day e-mail is sent), social relationships (what organizations I interact with in a given week), the density of idea generation, etc.  E-mail logs contains a wealth of raw data that can be instrumented to uncover important information about our life.

Our E-mail logs are also rich archive of useful information such as phone numbers, addresses, what we said to someone, when we said something to someone, edits to papers, attachments, etc. With a proper set of tools, many of which have been built for analyzing social media, we can turn this archive into a database of useful information that can significantly enhance e-mail-based  instrumentation.

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