Subject: Re: logical pathnames - lack of info?
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: Fri, 22 Feb 2002 22:19:01 GMT
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

* "Eduardo Muñoz" <>
| Given this paragraph and some other comments written by you in this (and
| other) thread maybe you could do something about it.  You said some time
| ago that you had a project to write a book (or two) and IMHO you have
| enough power (or credit) within the lisp community to set a de-facto
| standard in some aspects of the CLHS that are not clear enough. You could
| fill holes and gaps, point to design flaws (not trying to correct them so
| we'll have a lisp branch, just warning and giving advice about them) and
| explaining how things should work.

  This is indeed a bit naive.  The ANSI Standard is a legal document,
  effectively an attachment to the contract you sign with your vendor when
  you purchase (a license to) a Common Lisp system that purports to conform
  to it.  Its legal status is well known and effectively peer-reviewed
  through the standardization process.  Relying on the personal commentary
  of the editor of the standard reduces the legal standing of the standard
  so much that it is effectively useless as such, and ANSI would have the
  right to protect its brand name (if not investment) by any means it might
  find necessary.  I would not want to be Kent Pitman if ANSI got pissed at
  him for publishing such _official_ commentaries outside of the process
  that created the standard, basically because it would open up for
  lawsuits against ANSI for failure to follow proper procedures to ensure
  that no particular vendor was unduly favored in its creation.

| Writing a book these days isn't big bussines but I think that given your
| big experience in lisp and your kwnodledge of the spec, a book by you
| would be an inmense help to the lisp community.  It would help users and
| implementors to agree in the dark corners of the spec.

  If it did, it would be a dangerous document.

| Maybe this book wont be such a bad bussines. I guarrantee you that I'll
| buy a copy (and I'm sure that more of 50% of c.l.l will do too :)

  I would buy one, too, just as I bought The SGML Handbook by Charles
  Goldfarb when ISO 8879 turned out to be fairly unreadable by itself, but
  that was before I had legal training and worked with lots of lawyers.

  A standard is _specifically_ relinquished from anyone's personal control
  and left to the community of people that adopted it by its representative
  and proxies.  To re-acquire personal control over it would diminish the
  value of the whole standardization process, just as if a politician who
  had helped push a particular law instructed the courts to interpret it a
  particular way.  (Perhaps you have be really _deeply_ into politics and
  law to see why this is fantastically bad karma, but trust me: it is.)

  In a fight against something, the fight has value, victory has none.
  In a fight for something, the fight is a loss, victory merely relief.