[cap-talk] Zest list summary

Asheesh Laroia asheesh at asheesh.org
Fri Jan 5 04:02:13 CST 2007

Ka-Ping Yee published a paper in 2002 (*) on extracting a visual thread 
summary out of email messages.  He wrote Python code that actually did the 

One of the big innovations "Zest" brought to reading mailing lists was a 
paragraph-centric view of messages rather than a thread-centric view.  I 
think he introduced the program years ago on this list, so hopefully I 
won't need to explain in too much detail what makes it interesting.  The 
paragraph focus means it's easy to watch questions get asked and answered 
without diving through a full thread or having to remember lots of state 
as to who asked what.

I discovered that Python code a few months back and fixed some bugs here 
and there.  I also made a web interface where you can link me to an mbox 
file and I'll run Zest against it <http://dev.asheesh.org/code/zest_web/>.

Eric Northup had the idea of running it against November and December 2006 
(combined) of cap-talk, and after he did so, the result is available at 

(There are some bugs I know need to be fixed, and the URLs need to be 
fixed to make more sense.)

I'd love to hear comments from cap-talkers about ways this is good or ways 
it could be improved.  I don't think I'll be able to spend a whole lot of 
time updating Zest, but some tips from energetic mailing list users like 
you guys would be great motivation! (-:

-- Asheesh.

P.S. Ping, while we're here, would you mind if I released my derived code 
under to the public under the GPLv2 (or later, at the downloader's 
option)?  I don't recall if the original code had a license notice on it.

*. http://zesty.ca/pubs/cscw-2002-zest.pdf (via http://zesty.ca/zest/)

Good night to spend with family, but avoid arguments with your mate's
new lover.

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