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Here’s a way to look at Hillary Clinton’s emails without getting angry or depressed


Hillary Clinton Holds Press Conference Over Email Controversy Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images
Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

The story/scandal about Hillary Clinton’s emails may be “bullshit,” as Vox’s Matt Yglesias argues.

On the other hand, Clinton’s emails themselves, along with the ones from Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, as well as the Democratic National Committee, are certainly worth looking at.

Here is an interesting way to look at them: A set of interactive charts via MIT’s Media Lab, which takes the WikiLeaks archive and assembles them into interesting displays.

A quick glimpse at Clinton’s emails, for instance, tells you immediately that she spent much of her time mailing three chief aides: Jake Sullivan, Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin.

And if you click on Abedin’s circle, you can see who she spends most of her time corresponding with, and then see those emails, etc.

This stuff is great fun to play with, if you’re so inclined. It also points out one of the (obvious) limits of data visualization: Without context, this stuff just looks interesting. If you want it to tell you a story, it’s going to need help.

You can read more about the story behind the graphs from MIT professor César Hidalgo, who was disappointed that his work didn’t immediately generate a swell of interest from the press.

But, again: Just looking at these charts won’t tell you about, say, Podesta’s risotto recipe. You’ve got to go looking for that.

This article originally appeared on

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