Thanks to Sarah I was led to a nice custom set of visualizations by Salahub and Oldford of Secretary Clinton’s Email (Source: Wikileaks). The visualizations are discussed in a paper titled Interactive Filter and Display of Hillary Clinton’s Emails: A Cautionary Tale of Metadata. Here is how the article concludes.
Finally, this is a cautionary tale. The collection and storage of metadata from any individual in our society should be of concern to all of us. While it is possible to discern patterns from several sources, it is also far too easy to construct a false narrative, particularly one that ﬁts an already held point of view. As analysts, we fall prey to our cognitive biases. Interactive ﬁlter and display of metadata from a large corpus of communications add another tool to an already powerful analytic arsenal. As with any other powerful tool it needs to be used with caution.
Their cautionary tale touches on the value of metadata. After the Snowden revelations government officials like Dianne Feinstein have tried to reassure us that mining metadata shouldn’t be a concern because it isn’t content. Research like this shows what can be inferred from metadata.