Annual email trawl

As regular readers may recall and detest, about once a year I like to scan over all the email I've receive in the past twelvemonth, and try to see if I can detect any interesting or notable trends. I did this in 2003, again in 2004, and did the analysis in 2005, but didn't get around to posting the results, being somewhat distracted by the repeated failure of my computer to keep working without rebooting itself.

Anyway, another year is drawing slowly to a close, and so it's time to post yet another interminably tedious analysis of my own email. It's mostly bad news, you'll be delighted to hear. Firstly, spam is up dramatically in the last year. My definition of spam, crude though it is, is email where i received one message from that email address. So at best it's an approximation, but it seems to work tolerably well. Aynyway, I seem to be receiving 1000 to 1500 spam messages a month, way up from only a few hundred a month a year or so back. That equates to upto 50 spam a day, and I'd say that this was fair. Certainly, whenever I go away for a few days, there's typically upwards of a hundred messages waiting for me to deal with on my return. Mail as a whole is up, a total of 3000 messages a month (including spam), up from a mere few hundred (500+) a couple of years back.

So, some of the rise is spam, some is surely reflective of the fact I'm generally busier these days, but part is also explained by some particuarly high traffic mailing lists. The totals of all received email are as follows:
2002/03: 7093
2003/04: 12245
2004/05: 16452
2005/06: 29884
But for mailing lists, the totals were:
2002/03: 1500
2003/04: 5500
2004/05: 8800
2005/06: 8000
So at least the initial increae in email over the last few years can be attributed to heavy traffic mailing lists; however, the near doubling of mail in the last year, an extra 13000 emails a year, seem to be almost entirely due to spam. It's almost enough to make me want to install some kind of spam filter.

for the first time this year, i also looked at sent email. I have records going back to 1995, but decided to just look at the last four years since arriving in the US. The numbers look as follows (by calendar year, this time):
2001: 1309 messages sent
2002: 1110
2003: 1249
2004: 1724
2005: 2265
2006: 1286 (so far)

My theory for the big jump starting mid 2004 and going through 2005, is that this is when I first got a 'proper' job, and had a load of work related email. This is pretty plausible, since I have separate records for work and other work: my old email stayed about constant, new mail sent through work added about 100 messages a month. Now, there's actually some quite considerable undercounting going on here, since I've just counted messages in my sent-mail folder, whereas mail to some specific people goes into sorted folders based on redicipient for future convenience. Throwing those into the mix adds about another 5000 messages to the total for the last four years, making an average of about 10 emails sent per day for the last four years. Going back to 1995, I have records of a total of approaching 20,000 messages (a long term average of about 5 per day). Plotting these numbers month by month shows a very variable curve, but one with a fairly clear linear upward trend. This does not bode too well, but shouldn't be too surprising. Going back to 1996, there's the occasional break of a month which reads 0. This isn't a data quality, there was genuinely a time when I didn't send any email for a month because I was at home, and we didn't even have dial up at home. Hard to imagine now, I know...

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