Professor Judith Donath
essays and sketches
There are many things that can be depicted in email
visualizations. One can look to discern patterns of response - what
are the temporal rhythms in a conversation? Is there a missing
response? Is this a very symmetrical relationship or is one person
doing most of the mailing. One can look for patterns of conversation
scale - are these one to one dialogs or large group discussions? One
can look at the length of the response chain, distinguishing broadcast
announcements from back and forth discussion. One can look to the
words in the email - what is being discussed? How is it being
- Read the papers listed above
- Email can be used to paint a portrait of a relationship. Using 4
different people with whom you have corresponded, create a
visualization of an email relationship. (I.e. you should have 4 such
depictions, one for each person). Think about what the patterns mean
- it may be that content-free, short emails are typical of
conversations with closer friends while longer, more formal prose has
more substance, but also represents a less close tie. Thus, you
might want to both depict the slightness of the content in the former,
while also representing that it is not represntative of slightness is
meaning. Your first set of sketches should not include words.
- Redo the above 4 sketches, this time including in some way the
words (or an analysis of the words) in the conversation.
- Email can be a diary. Depict one month in your life via email.
A simple example of such a "diary" is Post-History, and you can use
that as a starting point for your sketch (but you don't have to).
Think about what patterns you want to show. Think about the discussion
we had about depicting time - how do you want to show cyclical vs
progressive time? This can be a sketch for an interactive piece -
things can happen when you click on dates, etc. What are the
significant events? Do you want to show new contacts? Big
conversations? The time you spend emailing?
This assignment is due Monday. Please submit your work online. If you have any problems with doing so, send email to Fernanda Viegas email@example.com