Wednesday, June 01, 2016

The Day the Internet Became “internet”

The Day the Internet Became “internet”. Apparently today several style guides are switching to not capitalize Internet. I think this is absurd. I fall into this camp:

Most of those reasons come down to this: In the 1970s, the word “internet” was derived from the word “inter-network,” which was defined as a set of smaller networks that exchanged data using one set of rules. So, in the eyes of the general population (or at least of the engineers who used inter-networks) there were multiple internets, and they were always lowercase. When people started using dial-up internet services, however, the need to disambiguate wedged a the before the word and encouraged capitalizing

And I don't get the counter argument:

“There’s a huge generational divide on this issue,” she said. “Making it have a proper name, made sense. It was the Thing, the Internet. Now, for people who are born after 1990, it’s where you live, and where you exist and any notion of it being a proper name seems very strange.”

I live and exist in Massachusetts not massachusetts.

One reason for this passionate response, according to McCulloch, is that the internet has made casual, informal writing more visible and available to the average person. Whereas written material produced by older generations may have been largely formal — a work memo, or a college paper — texting and chatting is an everyday exercise for most these days. And in participating in this way, people quickly attach a sense of identity to the style of writing they use.

“Even if they’re not consciously aware, people might be subconsciously aware of the trajectories for linguistic change, like which forms seem new, which forms seem associated with young people,” McCulloch said. “If you want to indicate you are a young person and you are with it, then you’re going to use the forms that are associated with people who are more technologically savvy. So if you want to show that you’re someone who really gets the internet I think you’re more likely to use lowercase internet.”

I've been writing informally on the Internet for 35 years. As far as I can tell from "young people texting", no words should ever be capitalized and most are spelled differently than in the dictionary (vowels seem optional, like in Hebrew).

There's one Internet, it's a proper noun. It's not like phonograph or electricity (other counter examples I've seen recently of words that were originally capitalized).

And as far as this comment on the article: "Whenever I see people write it as ‘Internet’ or ‘Inter-net’ or the ‘Web’ or the ancient ‘World Wide Web’ it just made me think that person was old and didn’t really understand how the internet worked." Hah! (or should I say LOL, I'm fine with that), the odds are I understand how the Internet works better than you. "For my peers and I the internet is just a part of life, there was never really a time before it. You use it all the time to help you find a restaurant, watch movies or it teaches you how to tie a tie. You’re part of the internet all the time because you have a social media account and everything you post on Instagram or Twitter is from you." The same can be said for the Earth and we capitalize that when we're not referring to dirt.

1 comment:

Richard said...

"Now, for people who are born after 1990, it’s where you live, and where you exist and any notion of it being a proper name seems very strange"

I mean that is so right we don't it Earth, right? Or Boston, or Delaware, just internet...

I agree with you, the Internet.