Great Circle Associates List-Managers
(July 2002)
 

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Subject: Re: The role of the mailing list
From: "Michael C. Berch" <mcb @ postmodern . com>
Date: Sat, 13 Jul 2002 12:54:39 -0700
To: List Managers List <list-managers @ greatcircle . com>
In-reply-to: <3D307ED7 . 3000308 @ queernet . org>

Funny -- I think most people think of an EDITED-DOWN collection when they think "digest" -- you know, that it's ben pre-digested for them. (Think digest -- think "Reader's Digest.")

Historically, that *was* what a mailing-list digest was in the old-old days. The old digests were sort of the equivalent of moderated Usenet groups. Bandwidth was considered precious, and wordy and off-topic messages were not appreciated. So, a dedicated moderator read all the incoming messages, rejected some, edited other for length, format, and occasionally content, and produced a "digest" of what was submitted. He/she also added occasional editorial comments, both on the subject matter or on what had been edited/condensed/omitted. Some lists were only available as a digest. I'm thinking of stuff like HUMAN-NETS, TELECOM DIGEST, INFO-NETS, SF-LOVERS, and some others, circa early 1980s, possibly some from the late '70s.

Later, other lists were produced in the form of automatically or semi-automatically produced digests which were simply concatenations of the submitted messages, usually with reduction in the individual headers. Since they resembled the moderated, hand-produced digests, they got called digests too. And so on from there. But the first digests were, indeed, digests in the classical publishing sense.

--
Michael C. Berch
mcb @
postmodern .
com / mcb @
greatcircle .
com




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