Journal of the American Society of Information Science & Technology 57, 14 (2006), 1936-1948.
HCIL-2005-08, CS-TR-4706, UMIACS-TR-2005-14, ISR-TR-2005-82
Due to email's ubiquitous nature, millions of users are intimate with the technology. However, most users are only familiar with managing their own email, which is an inherently different task than exploring an email archive. Historians and social scientists believe that email archives are important artifacts for understanding the individuals and communities they represent. In order to understand the conversations evidenced in an archive, context is needed. In this paper, 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 email headers by identifying relationships and interpreting their attributes. With these visualization techniques, email archive explorers can uncover insights that may have been otherwise hidden in the archive. We apply our methods to an individual's fifteen-year email archive, which consists of about 45,000 messages and over 4,000 relationships.