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Membership in committees

Happy new year!

Well, the disruptions of the holiday season are over, and it is now time
for us to get to work on putting these committees together.  Those of us
in the original gang of five have been kicking around some ideas both by
mail and in person, and the proposed membership lists that I present
below seem pretty good to us.

At this point, we need to discuss this among the full gang of seven, and
especially to get any input that Bob Mathis may want to contribute about
the requirements for non-U.S.  membership in these committees.  The next
step is to contact all of the people we want to nominate -- I'll
indicate below which people have already expressed a willingness to
serve and which have not yet been contacted.  Then, once we have a set
of people willing to serve, we announce this to the rest of the Common
Lisp community and see if a firestorm ensues.  My guess is that if we do
our job well a few people around the edges will grumble a bit, or maybe
a lot, but that there will be no substantial opposition.

First, some proposals for the steering committee:

Bob Mathis
Steve Squires
Ron Ohlander
John McCarthy
Guy Steele
Dick Gabriel

It was earlier proposed that the steering committee be a very small one,
perhaps just with Mathis, Squires, and either Ohlander or Balzer.  (All
of us in the gang of five greatly prefer Ohlander, who will be the
person most directly responsible for the support effort at ISI.)  The
idea of going with a larger committee is that the first three people on
the list will deal with most of the hard-core political issues, while
the other three lend technical perspective as needed and provide a lot
of extra clout within some segments of the community.  I think that this
is a good setup.

McCarthy is the inventor of Lisp, so his presence blunts any possible
argument that Common Lisp is somehow illegitimate or that we have
dirfted too far from what Lisp was originally meant to be.  McCarthy
said that he had no interest in being on the technical committee, but
that he would join the steering committee if Steele and Gabriel were
also on it.  And after thinking about this, it seems like the right set
of people.  Steele wrote the book, and is therefore the name most
closely associated with Common Lisp by the user community; he will also
be the interface to Digital Press if one is needed.  Gabriel has
generally been the most politically active member of the gang of five:
he has set up the various meetings, he has been the principal interface
with DARPA people, he helped to bring various companies into the fold,

So I think that this is a group that nobody could object to, and that
has the kind of clout we might need if the foreigners (or certain U.S.
companies) try to put obstacles in our way.  There is no way to claim
that this group is representative of the whole community, but that isn't
important for this committee.

Now for the technical committee:

First some criteria.  

Not every company interested in Common Lisp can have someone on the
technical committee, but we did want to represent all of the major
segments of the community: specialized Lisp machines, general purpose
machines, universities, big companies, small companies, newcomers to the
fold, people who want to think about subsets, people from outside the
U.S., and so on.

We wanted to include only people who understand both language design and
implemenation issues as they relate to Lisp, who have demonstrated some
interest in and overall approval of Common Lisp, and who are reasonably
well known within the Common Lisp community.  It is NOT necessary that
these people were major contributors to the Common Lisp discussions --
there is not way to get broad representation if we make that

We want people who can, to some extent at least, set aside their own
parochial interests for the good of the overall effort.  A lesser, but
still real consideration, is the ability of the person to work as part
of a team; we can't expect to make much progress if the committee is
full of people with some particular axe to grind, and who will hold a
grudge if they don't get their way on some issue.  In several cases, we
really wanted to include someone from particular companies, but couldn't
find anyone who has both the stature and the ability to compromise when

Everyone on the committee must be able to communicate reliably with the
rest of us by netmail.  This may be a problem for the overseas guys: we
can apparently reach Chailloux in France OK, but so far have had little
luck in communicating with Japan.

We thought that it would be very poor politics to include two people
from Symbolics when we are telling several other companies that they
can't have their own delegate on the committee.  Consequently, Dan
Weinreb has agreed to step down, for now at least.  Of course, we hope
that Weinreb will continue to be active in all our discussions, which
will almost all take place in the open via the Common Lisp mailing list
or something similar.  In fact, an important part of selling this whole
thing to the companies not represented is to make it clear that the
discussions will be open, and only the final decisions will be in the
hands of the technical committtee alone.

So here is what we think might fly:

Scott Fahlman, CMU
Dick Gabriel, Lucid
Dave Moon, Symbolics
Guy Steele, Thinking Machines
Danny Bobrow, Xerox
Martin Griss, H-P
Jonathan Rees, MIT
Jerome Chailloux, INRIA
Masayuki Ida, Aoyama Gakuin University

The four members of the gang of five are obvious.

Bobrow is extremely prestigious as one of the original players in the
Interlisp and Tenex worlds, and he is now an important voice in the
object-oriented programming debates.  It is politicially quite useful to
have someone from Xerox aboard, and Bobrow is by far the best choice
there -- some of the others still seem to be bitter about Common Lisp's
success againts Interlisp.  Apparently he has indicated a willingness to
serve on this committee if asked, and the management people at Xerox
are eager to have him do this.

Griss is a less obvious choice, but he has a lot of experience in
implementing Lisp efficiently on conventional machines.  He has been a
proponent of using the smaller PSL over Common Lisp, but H-P has now
swung its considerable weight into the Common Lisp camp and Griss seems
quite willing to go along with this.  We felt that we needed one more
guy from a big company (H-P, IBM, DEC, TI ...) and after we rule out
people who are basically hostile to Common Lisp, Griss seems to be the
person with the best technical reputation.  Having someone aboard from
H-P specifically is also quite useful, as many of the other big
companies have close ties either to Lucid or to our group at CMU; H-P is
pretty independent, and is building a big Lisp-based research
organization at H-P Labs.  [We have not talked to Griss and he may not
be willing to put in the time for this; if he won't, we may have trouble
finding a good second choice to fill this niche, since there is nobody
else with comparable credentials at H-P.]

Jonathan Rees is most closely associated with T Lisp, a dialect of
Scheme, but he seems to understand that Common Lisp has different goals
from Scheme and that it is appropriate that it be larger and more
complex.  We all respect his taste in language design and his skills as
an implementor.  He is also something of a formalist, which will make
the committee look better in some peoples' eyes.  Rees has expressed
some interest in serving on this committee, but also some reservations
about the time it might take.  If he declines, a good alternative might
be Alan Bawden -- if they were not both at MIT, we would probably want
them both aboard.

It is not clear to us exactly at what point we should put international
members on the committee, but Chailloux is the most obvious non-U.S.
candidate.  He has strong implementation credentials as the developer of
Le Lisp, and has some strong ideas about creating a standard Common Lisp
subset -- a topic that some of us feel should be explored in any event.
He may be a bit hard to deal with when disagreements arise, but he will
certainly cause us less trouble on the committee than if he feels he was
unfairly excluded by a U.S. political steamroller.

The Japanese make a lot of noise about Prolog in public, but there is
great interest in Common Lisp in some of the big Japanese companies.
They will be important players in this game and should be represented,
though they might be content just to follow the U.S. lead.  Masayuki Ida
seems to be the obvious person: he translated the Common Lisp manual
into Japanese, and is the chairman of the JEIDA Common Lisp Committee.
(I'm not sure what role JEIDA plays, but it sounds like Ida is the
central coordination point for Common Lispers in Japan, if not their
actual leader.)  He, too, has some ideas about subsets.  I have a hunch
that Ida would be happy to serve on this committee, but we have not yet
been able to establish two-way mail contact with him.  If we cannot do
this, we may have to make him an honorary commitee member for awhile; we
cannot afford to hold up all decisions while we wait for snail mail to
do its thing.  The other Japanese we know are either too junior (more
important to them that to us) or are closely associated with one company
or another.

We have not identified anyone appropriate in Britain, West Germany, or
other such places.

My guess is that if all these people agree to serve and we announce this
committee to the rest of the community, it will go over pretty well.
LMI and the Franz Lisp people will complain a bit, as will Carl Hewitt
who keeps claiming that he has some legal right to be included in
everything that is going on.  We thought about what could be done to
placate these people, but there really is nobody reasonable for this
committee in any of their organizations.  By dropping Wienreb and
including some neutrals, we give them at least something to feel good
about.  I think that fair outside observers will feel that these
complaints are not well-founded, so they will eventually fade away.  I'm
sure that DEC, TI, IBM, and some of the other big companies will be a
bit concerned about not having their own poeple aboard, but if we stress
that the committee members are trying hard not to represent companies
and that all the discussions will be public, I think they'll all agree
that this is about the best we can do without growing the committee to
30 members.

Well, that's our first pass at this.  Comments are solicited.  Also,
please keep us informed about any progress in setting this up within

-- Scott