Alan Freeman (100042.617@compuserve.com)
Wed, 31 Jan 1996 05:30:10 -0800

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I agree with Jerry's proposal[OPE 869, Mon, 29 Jan 1996 14:53:41 -0800]

I think he is also right to say that

IMHO, the problem with the proposal, though, is that like a real poker
game, no one wants to be the first (or even one of the first) to put their
cards down on the table. It seems that everyone is waiting to see what
cards *others* have before revealing their own.

I like Alan's "cards on the table" suggestion, but, we can not force
members to do what they are unready, at present, to do. If others like
his suggestion as well, then I would suggest that *you* put your cards on
the table now or soon.

I think we can ease the worries, however, if we are circumspect about what
we are trying to achieve and how we conduct ourselves.

Poker is, I think, a zero-sum game. What we seek is a non-zero-sum game;
one in which the benefits of collaboration exceed the penalties of

It is therefore a duty of list members to deal with each other's proposals
in a manner different from the academic tradition.

I think we have to undertake above all to make a genuine critical
assessment of what is proposed, which I think means, over time (not
as a precondition to start) clarifying the 'rules of conduct' which will
make this work a non-zero-sum game. My own suggestions are:

(i)participants in the debate are aiming to understand rather than destroy;
above all to understand the 'ground rules' of each project, that is, its

(ii)*regardless of agreement or disagreement with the project as a whole*,
we aim to single out those elements or concepts of it which we think are

(iv) where we agree, we attempt to frame this agreement in minimum
terms without unnecessary methodological preconditions, so that people working
in diverse frameworks can make use of it;

(iii)where we disagree, we attempt to get the clearest possible agreed
statement of what the disagreement consists of.

(iv) where a reply to a point is requested, we take time out either
to respond or signal that at present we don't have a response.

I also think we probably need some guidelines on citation though I'm not
quite sure what they are; there is a risk on the one hand of mis-stating
someone's views by proclaiming an agreement with them which they don't want
to have - and thus adding their name to an idea they don't want to be
associated with. But there is the other risk which I think on balance
is worse, of writing as if one was the only owner of an idea. This is
very easy to do unintentionally.

Finally, I think my own cards, though I haven't provided proofs in many
cases, are fairly fully on the table and I have been using a lot of the
airwaves, so it might be better for others to pick up the baton. In any
case, continuing the present discussion through February gives me ample
time to develop them in the fairly energetic discussions now in progress.