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
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
com / mcb @