Since the recent news of NSA’s collection of metadata hit the fan, metadata is talked about now more than ever. What is considered metadata or “data about data” of course means different things in different instances. Metadata when talking about phone calls refers to the length, date and time of the call. Metadata when referring to e-mails includes essentially all data except what the e-mail communication actually says.

And to MIT Media Lab professor, Cesar Hidalgo metadata isn’t just a current political, technical or legal issue, it’s an emotional one.  Which is why he worked with a group of graduate students to create the “Immersion” project. The program asks Gmail users for their address and password; then it scans every e-mail in their accounts and uses the metadata to create a portrait of their personal network.  According to Hidalgo, metadata is a cloud of knowledge about your behavior, one that he thinks, once confronted with can literally change your life.

NPR’s Jacob Goldstein’s metadata or Gmail “life” looks like this:



The circles and lines of the network diagram highlight the 100 people you’ve communicated with the most and shows how closely they’re connected to you and others in your inbox. The project allows you to be your own Big Brother in a way.

Unlike Google or the NSA however, the “Immersion” project has an instant deletion option: remove your name and it deletes your metadata. To participate in MIT’s Media Lab Immersion project, visit


Source: What your metadata says about you –