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Scheme pre-R6RS Workshop at ICFP - What is the Point?

   Date: Wed, 27 May 1998 16:13:54 -0400 (EDT)
   From: cph@martigny.ai.mit.edu (Chris Hanson)

   There really are only two options available here.  First, that the
   various factions think up new names and go forward in different
   directions under these new flags.  Second, that one faction takes over
   and pushes Scheme forward in their direction, leaving out the other

Well, I think this second option has more variation than is hinted at here,
and certainly more implementation strategies.  for example, rather
than "factions" "winning" one might let certain "concepts" "win" and
leave it to the "faction" members to decide if they can cope with those
concepts.  I want this not to be about people winning.  I mind less if
ideas "win" (though then I mind the term "win" a little).  I think a single
person can accomodate more than one idea even if he/she has a preference for
one particular idea, so just because certain ideas "win", I don't expect 
to see a mass exodus of disgusted people.  Mostly, I expect people to 
gradually learn to cope and perhaps ultimately be happy that they finally
know where Scheme is going independent of personalities pushing at any given
time.  Indeed, that may offer the freedom for people to go forth with other
flags because finally they understand the goals of the flags to be different
rather than it just being about hurt feelings and people locked out.

I think the two essential steps are two synchronize on "process" (how
to compute membership and voting procedure)--not because I think it's
pleasant but because otherwise I don't know how to get to the next
step, and then to craft a charter (statement of intent).  In my
opinion, the "charter" is the one essential document that CL had that
let it move forward in the face of deadlock.  We laid out our
priorities such that the priorities, rather than per-issue personal
prferences, drove the result.  We have to know our total ordering on
"visual aesthetics", "spec length", "usefulness to users",
"portability", etc. so that when push comes to shove we all agree on
what we said was the rules and don't try to make new local rules for
each issue.  CL had the guts to say aesthetics is secondary to
commercially practical matters; you might want to say the same, you
might want the reverse.  But if you can't say either, that's the root
of all other problems.  If our central and agreed-upon charter tells
us which way we go on these things, I think we can move forward.  If
we can't make a charter, everyone will hold the illusion that their
value system is shared (probably falsely) and will compete for
political turf with each issue rather than work for consistency.