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Yale Grad's 'prism' Program Turns Text Metadata Into Wavy Art


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A display detailing one user's SMS usage.

The Prism application draws SMS metadata from unencrypted backups in iTunes, and arranges data on who was texted and when into a Streamgraph.

Credit: PC World

Yale University graduate Bay Gross has developed Prism, an application that analyzes a user's own SMS messages and displays them in a colorful diagram with a timeline.

Prism draws the SMS metadata from the user's own unencrypted backups within iTunes. It pulls who was texted and when and plots the data in a type of stacked graph called a Streamgraph. Streamgraphs emphasize the legibility of individual layers, arranging the layers in a distinctively organic form.

In Prism, the x-axis represents time and can show the degree to which some relationships are zero sum or even seasonal, according to Gross. For example, Prism can show how some texting relationships start fast and then fizzle out. Prism also has a feature in which the graphs can be exported without the users' names. The graph can be manipulated using a variety of parameters, such as by date, popularity, and frequency of contact.

Gross notes that Prism is a Macintosh desktop application and all of the processing is done on a person's computer. The program does not show the contents of messages and does not send any data to a remote server.

From IDG News Service
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