Fascinating article on data mining one’s own email/phone calls/keystrokes in today’s NY Times, focused on Dr. Stephen Wolfram, “a scientist and entrepreneur,” who has stored all of his personal electronic data since 1989. He decided to test out on of his company’s new data mining tools to find patterns in his behavior. The article’s accompanying graphs (hardly network visualizations, but still fairly interesting) tell the tale, such as it is.
I’m not sure how interesting his questions are, but this piece is at least suggestive.
I read his blog about this, and was left wondering what real advantage this method (for himself or a biographer, for example) would have over keeping a personal written journal. Most of what he talks about is how the data served to supplement or enhance his personal recollections. He explains that the break in emails around early evening is because he always carved out a long 2 1/2 hour dinner break to have quality family time. So what is more interesting–the fact that he took a dinner break or that it was an intentionally long break? And wouldn’t that information, written in a journal, seem to convey both? Personally, I’d much rather be left with (or myself leave) one’s personal thoughts, goals, dreams and recollections of life than a mass of data on one’s daily actions.