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My vote against standardization
I think a Scheme standardization process at this time would be an
extraordinarily bad idea.
I think that a time will come when, as RPG suggests, it will be
appropriate to offer the ideas of Scheme as a gift to the community to
stand on their own, but I do not think this is the time.
I was not clear on whether this standardization process was generated by
one of our members. If this move toward standardization is externally
generated, I suggest that the RRRS-Authors should make a formal
statement to IEEE asking them not to make the standard. If the move was
internally generated or if there was any prior groundwork done by any of
our members without involving the others, then I take great personal
offense at our not having been informed.
It is my strong belief that the larger the group becomes, the less
useful work it can do. We have useful work yet to do with Scheme. It is
questionable whether we can do it with a group the size that we have
now. It is nearly certain that we cannot do it with a group the size of
a standards organization.
It is also nearly certain that the organizational structure of a
standards committee is not appropriate for design work. Design is a
creative process and it cannot generally be achieved by an enforced
For a time it is still appropriate to be exclusive, anti-social, etc.
(one of the options RPG suggested we might take). I believe that for a
time it is still appropriate to weigh certain people's opinions more
than others (even if for friendship's sake we don't always come out and
say whose or why).
Entrance into standardization should be clearly accompanied by an
agreement to cease all design work. If we think that any further
substantive change to the language is in order (macros, eval, optional
arguments, ...), we're inviting disaster. CL has shown that one
compromise leads to another, and that in the end we may have something
that locally appeases many stated gripes, but that globally is a
There is no reason that we can't make Scheme into a language which has
greater appeal. But achieving that requires some interesting design work
to be done, not the bureaucracy of a standards committee. And anyway,
I'm content to have Scheme be a language which does not appeal to
everyone -- as long as there is a community which recognizes its value.
I'm not content to have Scheme be a language whose goal in life is to
maximize the number of people to whom it appeals at the cost of its
I am willing to risk that IEEE (or anyone else) might still try to make
a Scheme standard without our consent. I assume they have the legal
right to make such a standard with or without our cooperation, but I
think we should give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they are
honorable folks who would respect our wishes. There is no shame in being
proven wrong on this point.