I’ve accessed my email inbox that I have not used for 7 years & found 15,559 emails
I was writing an article about GDPR and it suddenly struck me — what was the first email I have ever sent? Turns out there is an interesting story and stats behind everything that we leave behind.
The first email address
Not surprisingly, my first email provider was Yahoo!. I will just say that the address was [cringeworthy]@yahoo.com.
Somewhat more surprisingly, I kept note of the password: “0KSzpvGbnTsCxGylMsnQ0dp”. This is a weird password to use in those days. Even by today’s standards, no one is using/ memorising such passwords. I did. There is a story behind it.
My first password was something along the lines of “balionas” (“balloon”, in Lithuanian language). It was my parent’s friend who helped me to set up my first email account. We picked that password together. I was happy with it. But then I saw him enter his very long and complicated password. He explained to me that because of the work he does, he needs to use a secure password… I soon after changed my password to “0KSzpvGbnTs” and memorised it. The password grew longer with each new service I signed up to/ every time Yahoo! asked me to change the password and eventually became the monstrosity it is today.
By the way, it is generally not a good idea to share old passwords. Precisely because of the behaviour described above — old passwords tend to evolve into new passwords. Therefore, even though I am not using this password anymore (these days my preference is to use passphrases), I have changed couple characters before sharing my old password.
Disappointingly, beyond the password change screen, the inbox produced an error.
The error disappeared after a while, but the inbox came back empty. I am assuming that all the data has been either lost or automatically purged by some Yahoo! maintenance setting.
Looks like I will never find out what was the first email I have ever sent/ received. I just remember that in the very first email I have ever sent I have included my password so that the person to whom I am sending the email could reply to me (so much for memorising long passwords; my password became couple characters longer soon after the first email).
It is unclear how old the Yahoo! account is (I am guessing early 2000s). It was probably sometime around 2005 that I have last accessed the account.
The second email address & the first email
As far as I remember, the second email provider was gmail. I have used the same [cringeworthy]@gmail.com address.
The first email?
Just seeing the subject line and the date of the email revived a series of visual memories: running to buy computer hardware thats capable of running the game, keeping all the room windows open (it was winter time) to keep the room temperature cold so that my computer would not overheat and learning how to code (for those unfamiliar with Second Life: it is an online virtual world in which you are capable of designing and programming the surrounding environment).
In case you are are wondering what got me into Second Life, it was an art exhibition:
In 2005, Hinrich Sachs initiated a party that took place simultaneously in two venues: at the Contemporary Art Centre in Vilnius, Lithuania, and within the online-game environment “Second Life”. The potential to move/ act within Second Life as an avatar, as a permanent masquerade or version of oneself, inspired the organization of a masked ball. Yet its social function, title and decoration alluded also to the Gala Nights organized by Francis Picabia in Cannes, in the 1930s.
I happened to be around the artist at the time when the exhibition was being set up and was encouraged to contribute.
I started by designing clothes (space suits, to be specific). However, it didn’t take me long to realise that the real fun/ money is to be made creating weapons. The next couple of months I would dedicate myself to learning how to program the most bizarre and powerful guns in the virtual reality and sell them in Second Life forums. This wasn’t my first time making money programming. However, it was the most fun way I ever made money – blasting people’s avatars into space.
It appears that today Second Life has an official marketplace with tens of thousands models and scripts.
The 15,558 other emails
The first email has been received in 2005. The last email has been sent 2011. For 7 years no one touched this inbox. There is a total of 15,559 emails. What are they?
To find out, I have used Google to download all my data and I have written a script to parse emails and produce some insights.
Who sent me the most emails?
By far the most emails came from the social networks and e-commerce platforms.
Whats concerning is that out of the top 25 senders I cannot recognise 10.
The distribution of emails by date does not reveal any extremely surprising trends (median 3, mode 2).
I was expecting to see the total number of emails dropping significantly as the time goes as a result of senders not receiving response and continuously improving spam filters, but thats not the case.
The most emails received in one day were 70 — all of which were Facebook notifications.
Distribution of emails by time of the day shows emails peak at 15:00 UTC.
1798 emails include keyword “offer”, 406 emails mention “discount”, 25 – “voucher”. However, the kicker is that only 2 emails mention GDPR (both sent by Google).
What prompted me to write this article is my investigative piece into GDPR and the natural curiosity about collecting and analysing data. Speaking of which – did I mention that I have created a company that aggregates and analyses data about all of the cinemas across Europe? Check out https://applaudience.com/analytics/ for a demo of some of the data that we collect.
What was your first email address?
What is the first email in your inbox?
It is going to be interesting to come back to this account a year later and see whether GDPR had an effect on the volume of random emails.