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Proposed Justification Letter
I don't think the kind of letter you propose would be useful, especially
if it were sent to the entire Common Lisp membership.
Right now, we've got only one disgruntled company (that we know of), and
there's no reason to believe that Fateman is especially hot about this
-- he does like to complain. A public letter from us that sounds
defensive or that sounds like we are responding to a flood of criticism
is likely to create just such a flood. Right now, all of the other
companies are likely to say "Well, if everyone else accepts these
choices, we will too." But if it appears that we're under siege, things
could unravel in a hurry. We should present this selection as a fait
accompli and see if we can get away with that.
Also, it is probably politically unwise to hold the Europeans up as the
reason we must all be united behind the strongest possible U.S. commitee.
Your wording about "internationally known" people in the original
message gets this idea across implicitly; to say more would be to
further harm our chances of patching things up with Europe, and in the
long run they're more important than the Franz crowd.
Finally, I think that you do not really respond to the question that
Fateman is asking. You restate in more detail what the criteria are and
why they are important. Fateman didn't ask that. What he is asking is
what the people on the list have done to meet the criteria and,
implicitly, what they have that Fateman and Foderaro don't have.
I think that your message is a useful thing to hold in reserve, because
it will be the right sort of thing to send if a LOT of dissension breaks
out, but right now it's overkill. Fateman is not going to be totally
happy in any event, so we should deal with his message in a way that
does no further damage, that provides him with no ammunition, and that
makes us feel that we've dealt with the situation honestly. It is
probably a mistake to justify each of the choices we made in writing,
and certainly a mistake to discuss why others were not chosen.
I would suggest that we just say the following:
1. We made the choice ourselves, as we were instructed to do; asking for
volunteers was not appropriate. (We've discussed this.)
2. Anyone who wants to can participate in the X3J13 committee, which will
have the final say on all this.
3. We are satisfied that every member of the committee, as announced,
meets the criteria and that every members adds something useful to
4. Lots of other people also meet the criteria. We had to choose a small
committee that could work effectively together.
Would that suffice?
One thing that wold make me feel easier about the whole affair is if I
knew more about Bawden's background. I feel that if necessary, I can
justify all the other choices: the gang of five members are obvious;
Bobrow has been involved in Interlisp for a hundred years and is now
doing important work on object-oriented stuff; Griss has done important
work on portable Lisp implementations and he now represents one of the
big companies; Rees did implementaiton work on T and is now one of the
most prominent players in the Scheme world. But all I know about Bawden
is that he has always given good advice and that the rest of you think
he's appropriate. Could someone who knows him better fill me in on his
background, just so I don't get ambushed?