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Membership Message

There are two issues here: how it really works, and how much we want to
say in the message.

Here's my understanding of how it really works -- Bob Mathis should
correct me if this is wrong.  The normal model is that these X3mumble
committees get formed, people join, then they either try to work out the
issues in ponderous mass meetings or they appoint a technical committee
to do the detailed work.  Presumably the technical committee's output is
voted on by the committee of the whole, and then is sent to ANSI for
formal approval.  After than (maybe some overlap is possible) the same
proposal could be sent to ISI for approval there.

So there are three more hurdles to clear once the report comes out of
the technical committee: X3J13, ANSI, and ISO.  If we don't clear the
ISO hurdle because the Europeans have ganged up to stop us, that's not
so bad -- we still have an ANSI standard in that case.  I believe that
the ANSI and ISO votes have to be "take it or leave it", and that they
don't get to mess with the content of the proposal; I'm not sure if the
vote at X3J13 would be of that nature.

What we are trying to do is two things: first, get started on producing
a standards document long before X3J13 even exists, and certainly long
before they would have a chance to set up a technical committee; and
second, to present X3J13 with a sort of fait accompli.  The idea is to
hand them a complete or nearly complete specification backed the
heaviest names in Common Lisp and most of the companies BEFORE things
have a chance to get too political and confused.  While technically
X3J13 would have the right to appoint a totally different committee and
ignore us and our input, or to start messing around with the standard we
propose, we are betting that they will accept both the committee and its
work in toto.  A few dissenting voices may be raised, but unless we
really screw up, the opposition will be disorganized and scattered.

Obviously, the closer we can come to having a complete spec ready, the
easier this ploy will be.  But even if we're not quite done, we've got
some things in our favor: Bob Mathis will control the parliamentary
machinery; the Common Lisp community is used to looking to us for
leadership; we could, as a last resort, refuse to have anything to do
with the ANSI standard unless they accept the committee and its output
without a lot of changes.  If the standard is not complete, we will
propose that the same committee be appointed to finish it.  In theory,
this could all come unglued at the X3J13 level, but I really don't think
there's much chance of that if we've done some useful work in the

So that's my model of how this is likely to work.  I don't think we want
to spell all of this out in the message in much more detail than what I
already said, because that would just invite the opposition to start
planning for an ambush.  The view we want to convey, I think, is the

1. We need to get started, and the community has charged us with
selecting a committee to do this.  Here it is.

2. Technically, this will all come under X3J13, once that exists.

3. Without actually saying this, we give the impression that we fully
expect X3J13 to just rubber-stamp what we come up with.  We don't take
pains to point out that X3J13 could repudiate what we do, since that is
an invitation to do just that.

-- Scott