Using rhythms of relationships to understand e‐mail archives

TitleUsing rhythms of relationships to understand e‐mail archives
Publication TypeJournal Articles
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsPerer A, Shneiderman B, Oard D
JournalJournal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology
Pagination1936 - 1948
Date Published2006/12/01/
ISBN Number1532-2890

Due to e-mail's ubiquitous nature, millions of users are intimate with the technology; however, most users are only familiar with managing their own e-mail, which is an inherently different task from exploring an e-mail archive. Historians and social scientists believe that e-mail archives are important artifacts for understanding the individuals and communities they represent. To understand the conversations evidenced in an archive, context is needed. In this article, we present a new way to gain this necessary context: analyzing the temporal rhythms of social relationships. We provide methods for constructing meaningful rhythms from the e-mail headers by identifying relationships and interpreting their attributes. With these visualization techniques, e-mail archive explorers can uncover insights that may have been otherwise hidden in the archive. We apply our methods to an individual's 15-year e-mail archive, which consists of about 45,000 messages and over 4,000 relationships.