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MUSE: Reviving Memories Using Email Archives

Sudheendra Hangal, Monica S. Lam, Jeffrey Heer
Image viewer for photos extracted from email attachments.


Email archives silently record our actions and thoughts over the years, forming a passively acquired and detailed life-log that contains rich material for reminiscing on our lives. However, exploratory browsing of archives containing thousands of messages is tedious without effective ways to guide the user towards interesting events and messages. We present MUSE (Memories USing Email), a system that combines data mining techniques and an interactive interface to help users browse a long-term email archive. MUSE analyzes the contents of the archive and generates a set of cues that help to spark users' memories: communication activity with inferred social groups, a summary of recurring named entities, occurrence of sentimental words, and image attachments. These cues serve as salient entry points into a browsing interface that enables faceted navigation and rapid skimming of email messages. In our user studies, we found that users generally enjoyed browsing their archives with MUSE, and extracted a range of benefits, from summarizing work progress to renewing friendships and making serendipitous discoveries.

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Sudheendra Hangal, Monica S. Lam, Jeffrey Heer
ACM User Interface Software & Technology (UIST), 2011