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The Lispm MAY or MAY NOT adopt various aspects of Common Lisp.
- To: INFO-LISPM at MIT-AI
- Subject: The Lispm MAY or MAY NOT adopt various aspects of Common Lisp.
- From: Richard M. Stallman <RMS at MIT-AI>
- Date: Fri ,18 Sep 81 19:54:00 EDT
Common Lisp is being designed by a small group of people,
without much discussion with the Lisp machine community
except for Moon and DLW (I hear).
It may be good to adopt some of their changes, but that sort of
decision should involve the Lispm user community, be based on
considering the specific changes themselves, and shouldn't be
all-or-nothing. They shouldn't be decided privately by Moon and a few
The design of Common Lisp is still going on, and it ought to be
possible for Lispm users to look at the tentative design now and start
thinking about whether they WANT the changes; or try to influence the
Common Lisp design. But the previous message did not encourage this.
"When the Lisp machine adopts Common Lisp..." is what it said. The
Common Lisp people are not keeping their plans a secret, but the info
is obscure, and the previous message didn't tell us where to find it.
It adds up to, "Don't attempt to influence your future. Resign
yourself. WE will decide what happens to you".
I don't know about you, but I don't like receiving that attitude. My
response was to hunt down the Common Lisp manual, so I can see what's
really being considered. It is RMS;SLM PRESS, a huge press file. Let
me know if you want a copy, and I will print several at once. Or
maybe people can read them sequentially.
Not surprisingly, most of the changes are improvements; but some of
the improvements would involve TREMENDOUS incompatibilities (such as
changing the quote character to "\"). Some other changes would be of
no benefit, while making the system far more complicated if we were to
advise users to write in a Common-Lisp-compatible style. I think a
few of the changes are bad.
It's fine for a few people to get together privately and design a new
Lisp. But this, together with another small private group deciding
that the Lisp machine will adopt whatever the first group designs,
adds up to excluding the Lisp machine users, and the rest of the
system implementers, from the decision. This is not acceptable. We
have to be in the process SOMEWHERE.