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The Internet

It's Just the 'internet' Now? 710

This morning Wired News announced that 'web', 'net', and 'internet' will no longer be capitalized in their stories. Is this the next logical step after ditching 'e-mail' in favor of 'email' , or should the global computer network still be treated with a proper name? For more discussion, see Wikipedia, The Chicago Manual, and an article profiling Joseph Turow's de-capitalization efforts.
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It's Just the 'internet' Now?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 16, 2004 @01:31PM (#9982299)

    ... we should decapitalize "Google".
    • by abb3w ( 696381 ) on Monday August 16, 2004 @01:33PM (#9982330) Journal
      No, that only happens if the SEC get antsy enough about the Playboy interview during the IPO quiet period.

    • So who writes pron with a '0' now anymore??
    • by 88NoSoup4U88 ( 721233 ) on Monday August 16, 2004 @01:52PM (#9982615)
      How about decapitalizing 'God' ?

      *gets struck by lightning*

      • Capital Punishment?
      • Re:Next move... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by trentfoley ( 226635 ) on Monday August 16, 2004 @03:52PM (#9984023) Homepage Journal
        An interesting point that I have considered many times.

        Those that want to keep "God" in the U.S. pledge, etc., claim that "God" is a generic term for a spiritual, not religious concept; and, therefore, does not endorse any specific religion. Bill O'Reilly holds this belief, as do many conservatives.

        Those that want to remove "God" from the U.S. pledge, etc., claim that "God" is the proper name for the Judeo-Christian supreme being and represents an endorsement by the U.S. government of a specific religion. Which is, of course, unconstitutional.

        My suggestion to mend this dilema has always been to uncapitalize "God" thereby removing the association with the Judeo-Christian supreme being. Hell, I'd even be for making it plural... One nation, under gods, indivisible...

        My unrealistic suggestion is to change "God" to "the laws of physics".

    • by Dr Caleb ( 121505 ) on Monday August 16, 2004 @02:03PM (#9982766) Homepage Journal
      It worked for "digital". But then again, they couldn't afford the capital letter.

    • by 0x0d0a ( 568518 ) on Monday August 16, 2004 @02:23PM (#9983039) Journal
      Actually, if you're just trying to be Wired (which means being relentlessly hip to try to avoid losing their self-assumed position as authority on Internet culture), there's a fair number of predictable "next moves":

      Internet becomes "iNet". This is to fit with Apple's product naming scheme, which is cool, and therefore something that Wired is terribly concerned about associating itself with.

      "I see" becomes "i c". Wired constantly promotes the claim that the Internet (oops, sorry -- "internet") is going to completely drive our lives and our culture, and currently most authorship is done via chat. What better way to argue their point than to let themselves be completely swayed by typos and shortcuts from chat?

      Micropayments are "hip", so Wired stops selling "subscriptions" and starts selling "micropayments in twelve chunk block minimums".

      "Internet time", or "beats" (a desperate attempt by Swatch, who has put every useful gadget and more onto a watch, to produce new required features to drive watch sales) will be adopted by Wired. I'm not sure that "beats" are hip or not, but they're certainly stupid and Internet culture-oriented, so Wired should love them. They can say "It took me @45 to write this article".

      Wired will no longer refer to themselves as a "magazine". "Magazines" are pre-Internet culture, and "'zine" is only marginally more "hip". No, tablet computers are "hip", and so Wired will sell "paper tablets".

      Speaking of "'zine", almost any word can be made more hip by chopping some prefix off and replacing the prefix with an apostrophe. We know this because a couple of sci fi authors have done this. Therefore, I won't "Download and read Wired on the Internet by 4:00 PM". Instead, I'll "'nload 'n rez wired on the internet by @3452". Where would we be without Wired for entertainment?
  • Wow (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 16, 2004 @01:31PM (#9982306)
    And this is News? err sorry. news
  • by Zygote-IC- ( 512412 ) on Monday August 16, 2004 @01:33PM (#9982320) Homepage
    Can we please make that one word, like most of those who actually build them do?
  • by GillBates0 ( 664202 ) on Monday August 16, 2004 @01:33PM (#9982325) Homepage Journal
    should the global computer network still be treated with a proper name?

    the intarweb should still be treated with teh proper name

  • by BillLeeLee ( 629420 ) <bashpenguin@gmai ... inus threevowels> on Monday August 16, 2004 @01:35PM (#9982343)
    wired is stealing my thunder. i started this trend when my shift key broke. curse you wired.

    damn shift key, i can't use the exclamation point to emphasize my rage.
  • by jdallien ( 564954 ) * on Monday August 16, 2004 @01:35PM (#9982353)
    It doesn't bother me either way, captialized or not, but I think the comparision to television and phonograph isn't quite correct at this point. As of right now, we only have one Internet, hence referring to it as "the Internet", whereas there are many televisions, etc. To me the captialization comes more from using it like a proper name more than like a brand name. Somewhere down the road maybe there will be many networks called internets and it would make more sense to use it just as a normal noun.

    Or we could just not worry about it and get to work on the more pressing problems... should Microsoft be spelled with a $?
  • No more /.? (Score:5, Funny)

    by JohnGrahamCumming ( 684871 ) * <slashdot AT jgc DOT org> on Monday August 16, 2004 @01:35PM (#9982356) Homepage Journal
    Hopefully we can drop /. now and instead hold down the SHIFT and all surf over to ?>

  • by Saeed al-Sahaf ( 665390 ) on Monday August 16, 2004 @01:36PM (#9982365) Homepage
    "Stuff that matters", folks!
  • by garcia ( 6573 ) * on Monday August 16, 2004 @01:36PM (#9982367)
    Why? The simple answer is because there is no earthly reason to capitalize any of these words. Actually, there never was.

    Well there was never any reason to capitalize "net" for the simple fact that it is really 'net which is a shortened version of "Internet". I consider the Internet a specific place and thus deserving of capitalization.

    If It's Capitalized, It Must Be Important.

    There are a lot of things that are important that aren't capitalized. Take for example "air" and "water". Most people don't capitalize either one of those. I suppose there may be some groups out there like "wateries" or "airheads" that may refute my claims but they can write their own damn non-sense. I'd prefer they save it for 4/1/2005 though.

    That it transformed human communication is beyond dispute. But no more so than moveable type did in its day. Or the radio. Or television.

    Small nitpick here... If you are talking about "the radio" instead of radio there is a slight difference. Radio is talking about the medium where "the radio" is talking about the big box over in the corner of the living room that talks.

    I will continue to refer to it as "Internet" as it is my all knowing God. Maybe that's why Google is capitalized? :)
  • by sulli ( 195030 ) * on Monday August 16, 2004 @01:36PM (#9982368) Journal
    lowercase makes one handed typing easier
  • by i_want_you_to_throw_ ( 559379 ) on Monday August 16, 2004 @01:37PM (#9982378) Journal
    at least the names are staying the same. there are places in the world... well ok france,..where they have renamed words in an attempt to stop encroachment of english into their language. like referring to email as 'courrier electronique'. my own lack of capitalization today is a tribute to ee cummings however.
  • by Patik ( 584959 ) * <cpatik@g[ ] ['mai' in gap]> on Monday August 16, 2004 @01:37PM (#9982381) Homepage Journal
    All of it (email, web, IM) has been "the intarweb" to most non-techie folks for some time.
  • by barzok ( 26681 ) on Monday August 16, 2004 @01:37PM (#9982390)
    people stop writing WEB when it's not an acronym or abbreviation.
  • The reason (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Order ( 469817 ) on Monday August 16, 2004 @01:38PM (#9982399)
    There never was a reason to capitalize "Internet"?!
    Or perhaps Wired News simply don't know what they're talking about?
    The "internet" is any set of networks connected with routers. The "Internet" is the largest such network, that uses TCP/IP.

    From FOLDOC:

    Internet []
    internet []
    • Re:The reason (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Mannerism ( 188292 )
      You're right, and I was going to make the same point. But I guess it's fair to say that, in practice, internetworks aren't often referred to as "internets" any more, because of the inevitable confusion with the Internet. Anyway, I imagine most people who care about the difference would be able to figure it out from context.
  • by Chairboy ( 88841 ) on Monday August 16, 2004 @01:40PM (#9982433) Homepage
    Based on observed trends, it seems to be a good move. As a manager, I rely on my team to give me direction on technological improvements. Decapitalization of key words is consistent with the observed behaviors 'in the wild'. For example, I recently received the following emails that suggest Wired's decision is accurate:

    'im working on something alredy, so go stuff yourself and get back to browsing the internet'

    'Hey ass, next time you can't get to your stupid Sims board, check whether your network cable is even plugged in before telling everyone that "the internet is down"'

    'Jeesus, Ben, stop sending me that gd Bonzai Buddy trash! I don't care if it's cute, that little bastard screwed up my internet settings! I lost a weeks worth of work!'

    If my team uses that type of capitalization, then I know it's just a matter of time before it catches on.


  • who cares (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nuggz ( 69912 ) on Monday August 16, 2004 @01:40PM (#9982438) Homepage
    Does it really matter?
    Does the capitalization improve or impede understanding in any way?

    English is a fluid language, constantly changing and slightly different everywhere.
    It has different spelling pronounciation and accents everywhere. Despite the best hopes of the wannabe language police, english has and will continue to change.
    • Yes it does (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bogie ( 31020 )
      We are not talking about informal bs'ing or the fact that people pronounce things differently. We are talking about a proper place, ie the Internet. Between friends, in a chatroom, here etc, I don't see a problem with calling it the "internet" or "net" for short. We all do. But any half decent publishing house or reporter with any respect for formality or actual literary standards will continue to call it the Internet.

      "Despite the best hopes of the wannabe language police, english has and will continue to
  • Name of place (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Barryke ( 772876 ) on Monday August 16, 2004 @01:40PM (#9982441) Homepage
    I see the Internet as a place, like Amsterdam or Mars.
    A proper name of place is capitalized, hence i capitalize the Internet accordingly.
    • Re:Name of place (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Bastian ( 66383 )
      Agreed with the proper noun thing.

      I think it's also important to make the distinction because there isn't just one internet or network or web. It is possible to do internetworking without connecting your inernet to the Internet. Similarly, the Net isn't the only net - heck, a purist would argue there's more room for confusion if you don't capitalize this one - most people don't deal with internets other than the Internet, but everyone deals with nets that aren't the Internet. (Considering that the Inter
  • Silly (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sql*kitten ( 1359 ) * on Monday August 16, 2004 @01:40PM (#9982446)
    The Web is the World Wide Web. The web is what the spider lives in. The Net is the global TCP/IP network. The net is what the fish are caught in.

    I find it amusing that uber hype-mongers Wired (sorry "wired") claim that there was never any need to capitalize, they probably are responsible for it in the first place...
  • by Marc_Hawke ( 130338 ) on Monday August 16, 2004 @01:41PM (#9982453)
    Something that's on the Web can be said to be web-based.

    However, I don't think the same works for "Internet." Especially since there's something called "Internet 2."

    As far as 'net' goes, if you're talking about "on the Net" you'd capitalize on whether it's your LAN, or on the Internet.

    But I do have one question.. Is it now TCP/ip?

  • by nlawalker ( 804108 ) on Monday August 16, 2004 @01:41PM (#9982460)
    The internet will continue to be a victim of capitalism.
  • Tanenbaum (Score:5, Informative)

    by Gumshoe ( 191490 ) on Monday August 16, 2004 @01:41PM (#9982461) Journal
    The reason we capitalise 'Internet' is so that we can distinguish between it and mere 'internets'. 'Internet', with a lower case 'i', refers to any set of interconnected networks. Whereas 'Internet', with a capital 'i' refers to "the specific, worldwide internet that is widely used to connect universities, government offices, companies and [...] private individuals". That quotation incidentally comes from Tanenbaum's textbook, "Computer Networks" (3rd edition, page 16) where he made the exact same distinction that I have just made.

    It's always been capitalised and always will be AFIAC.
  • by Cycline3 ( 678496 ) on Monday August 16, 2004 @01:43PM (#9982480) Homepage
    The AP Stylebook says that Internet should be capitalized and it's still e-mail instead of email and they still make use of 3 character state codes instead of the newer 2 character postal ones. That book is the gold standard and anyone publishing should be following it.
    • Re:AP Stylebook (Score:3, Informative)

      by gamgee5273 ( 410326 ) *
      Keep in mind two things:

      1) Associated Press is a business. Reuters, for example, has its own style guide and it doesn not have to conform, in any way, to its competitor AP.

      2) It has also been tradition, from periodical to periodical, to allow for institutional style. The comma choices are one example, as many periodicals choose to list things in an "A, B and C" format, whereas traditional periodicals still prefer the traditional "A,B, and C." And then there are more formal choices such as, for example

  • Wikipedia comment (Score:5, Informative)

    by Raul654 ( 453029 ) on Monday August 16, 2004 @01:43PM (#9982484) Homepage
    (Speaking as a Wikipedia admin) - god, oh god, why did you link to the *TALK* page and not the article? Sigh...
  • Worldwide Web (Score:5, Interesting)

    by techstar25 ( 556988 ) <> on Monday August 16, 2004 @01:43PM (#9982488) Journal
    Another one that always bothered me..."worldwide" [] is one word. So it should be Worldwide in and not www.
  • by Black Perl ( 12686 ) on Monday August 16, 2004 @01:46PM (#9982529)
    e e




  • Some cap changes (Score:5, Interesting)

    by davidsyes ( 765062 ) on Monday August 16, 2004 @01:47PM (#9982533) Homepage Journal
    I almost NEVER proper-case microsoft (lower-casing/deprecation intentional). Sometimes, to get around honoring uppercasing for ms, I just use the initial msie, ms excel, NT4.0, win XP or W2K SP#... This way, it looks like a minor omission.

    Hmm, I guess ms will try to use meta tags and other technology to "clean up" documents, especially those that have "microsoft" (lower-casing/deprecation intentional) in them. Or, didn't they try that, only to be blasted for over-reaching into peoples' documents?

    When will we get people to correctly use:

    -"log on" as a verb and "logon" as the noun?

    -"insecure" for emotional states of mind

    -"non-secure" regarding the nature of the Internet. The Internet cannot be "insecure", since it is not a sentient/organic/thinking thing.

    When I was aboardship/aboard ship, and was Petty Officer of the Watch, I/we answered the landline/land line as "Quarterdeck, USS Flint. Petty Officer Syes Speaking. This is a non-secure line; how may I help you sir, or ma'am?"

    Phone lines are never insecure, so why the Internet? I think it was because a bunch of marketers took over the security message aspect of the Internet. Or, some engineers who are FANTASTIC programmers just happened to select the wrong word from the dictionary and it "stuck".

    Even "unsecure" might seem better that "insecure".

    Hmmm... I just ran a "" search on "insecure" and got these:

    1. Not sure or certain; doubtful: unemployed and facing an insecure future.
    2. Inadequately guarded or protected; unsafe: A shortage of military police made the air base insecure.
    3. Not firm or fixed; unsteady: an insecure foothold.
    4. Lacking stability; troubled: an insecure relationship.
    5. Lacking self-confidence; plagued by anxiety: had always felt insecure at parties.


    Well, to me, number 2 sounds stupid, as if someone POST-COLDWAR got caught up in the "insecure Internet" description thing.

    I guess I'll have to go to pre-Internet boom dictionaries to find out if "insecure" back then was described as in item #2 above...

    David Syes
  • by p0rnking ( 255997 ) on Monday August 16, 2004 @01:47PM (#9982544) Homepage
    With most of the words in question, I don't see the point in having the first letter capitalized, such as email, web, net (wich is slang for Internet), but with Internet vs. internet, I thought there was a difference between the 2, where internet refers an "inter-network (a link between networks which has not been tied to The Internet), and Internet refers to the "net".
  • by Sam Nitzberg ( 242911 ) on Monday August 16, 2004 @01:49PM (#9982580)
    Wikipedia has a good write-up at the top of its entry for Internet:

    and I appreciate the manner in which it addresses the "popular parlance" for "internet" in terms of the commonly used services on the Internet, e.g. "A system running internet services." (my example, based on Wikipedia's narrative).

    There is also a good discussion of Capitonyms:

    I think Wikipedia got it right.
    • A note on the name. As far as Wikipedia is concerned, due to software settings, the page is named Internet with a capitol I. The MediaWiki software, as set, currently capitalizes the first letter of all articles.

      That said... Dude, cmdrtaco! Why are you linking to a talk page from Slashdot? =b Now I've had to go and protect it from editing. Articles, sure, that's OK, but talk pages? This is new.

  • Stupid Wired (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 0x0d0a ( 568518 ) on Monday August 16, 2004 @01:51PM (#9982603) Journal
    (a) Nobody cares. Nobody, most of all Wired (which tries to coin terms and screw with the language unsuccessfully on a very frequent basis) has the ability to just decree that everyone is going to change capitalization or spelling of a word. The includes dictionaries -- they just codify common usage.

    (b) Insofar as there is a correct way of doing things, "Internet" should be capitalized. We use "the Internet". It is a proper noun (which, surprise surprise, should be capitalized) that refers to something quite different from "an internet" -- I can build "an internet" running IPX attaching a couple of networks, but "the Internet" runs IP and is a rather large entity that currently spans the world.

    (c) I hate journalists that try to leave their mark on the world by affecting the language.

    (d) Tell you what. I think that there's "no reason to capitalize 'Wired'" -- after all, there's another term, "wired", which exists, and surely we should just merge the two. So from now on, "Wired" can be referred to as "wired". Of course, the newly-redubbed "wired" people will probably take issue with this, as it's confusing and doesn't gain anything, and violates English rules, but I want to get my name out there on etymologies for mucking with a word. It's "wired" now. Oh, and "Tony Long", the editor pushing this? He can be "tony long", or just "long" for short.
  • Language authorities (Score:4, Informative)

    by Rich Klein ( 699591 ) on Monday August 16, 2004 @01:57PM (#9982671) Homepage Journal
    Why would you look to Wired for questions about language? That's what dictionaries are for! If you want to know if a word should be capitalized or not, look to a dictionary like OED [] or Merriam-Webster []. Incidentally, Merriam-Webster lists internet with a capital "I."
  • More importantly... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cafebabe ( 151509 ) on Monday August 16, 2004 @02:08PM (#9982833)
    Can we now ban apostrophes in "CPU's", "MP3's", etc.? It just kills me that even The New York Times (which is normally a stickler for grammar) has adopted that bastardized punctuation as their standard.
    • by panurge ( 573432 ) on Monday August 16, 2004 @02:55PM (#9983438)
      One use of apostrophes between a noun and the plural s has been to indicate that the noun is not a normal English word. (There is more about this in Eats, shoots and leaves by Lynne Truss.)
      MP3s is a good example. "MP3" is not a word. It is not even an acronym, since it has no discernible vowels and the "3" is clearly not a pronounceable letter. Furthermore, it does not have a meaningful plural form: MP3s would presumably be pronounced "em pee three ess", but the actual pronunciation "em pee threes" seems to suggest that there are a set of threes of the MP variety.

      A really stuffy way of indicating what is intended would be to write "MP3"s, to indicate that the thing in quotes is actually a quotation of informal speech. So it is quite reasonable to put a less ostentatious punctuation mark to say "Hey, this is a complete bastardisation of English, but this is what people are using."

      Personally, I think that "MP3 files" is clearer and less offensive to us grammar Nazis, but newspapers have to reflect real world usage.

  • Capitals... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by RAMMS+EIN ( 578166 ) on Monday August 16, 2004 @02:09PM (#9982840) Homepage Journal
    It's funny that in the development of the roman alphabet, originally there were only capitals. Lowercase letters were developed to make text more legible. So what do we actually still use capitals for? I mean, capitalizing names or words in a title or nouns etc. is just a convention. Just like spelling. In Europe, languages occasionally undergo a spelling change. What bugs me is why they never change the spelling to be consistent, let alone phonetic (e.g. corresponding 1 to 1 with the sound).
    • Re:Capitals... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ShieldWolf ( 20476 )
      Certain languages ARE phonetic, see Turkish: every letter has a unique sound that doesn't change with the context. It makes teaching and learning the language very easy since you know how to pronounce a work just by reading it. There are also no grammatical exceptions, making it basically a perfect language. ;)

      Also some words in English DO become phonetic over time:
      e.g. draught vs. draft

  • It's a proper name (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dracolytch ( 714699 ) on Monday August 16, 2004 @02:18PM (#9982982) Homepage
    We still capitalize the Earth, Atlantic Ocean, and McDonalds. Just because something's world-known and basically ubiquitous doesn't keep it from being a proper noun.

  • by LionMage ( 318500 ) on Monday August 16, 2004 @02:21PM (#9983013) Homepage
    Is this the next logical step after ditching 'e-mail' in favor of 'email'

    Actually, if you follow the link [] in this particular line of the slashdot article, you'll find Wired News's article on why they abandoned 'email' for 'e-mail' -- because 'e-mail' is grammatically correct, and 'email' is not, at least according to their reasoning. (It's actually a pretty good article, and one I read years ago.) Wired News did this ostensibly because the medium has "grown up" and the stylistic rules for the publication should reflect this. Or something.

    Were one to read the slashdot article without following the link, you'd think that Wired dumped the hyphen from 'e-mail,' when in fact they didn't dump the hyphen at all -- rather, they started using it. This usage agrees with Webster and the OED and various other style guides in the industry. The previous use of 'email' without the hyphen was what they got rid of.

    Personally, I don't care if people capitalize 'internet' or not. I prefer to capitalize it in most of my writing, because the Internet is a thing, a unique entity unto itself, and deserves to be considered a proper noun. It's not quite the same thing as television, which is a more nebulous and abstract concept (the word could describe the technology in general, the broadcast standard, the hardware used to display the broadcasts, or the programming that is being broadcast).
  • by argent ( 18001 ) <> on Monday August 16, 2004 @02:22PM (#9983025) Homepage Journal
    There's lots of capitalised proper nouns that are "obviously" unique and don't need to be capitalised. Wired should drop the uppercase letter for "god", "united nations", and "president of the united states". That'd generate lots more juicy controversy as well, which is after all the point of the excersize.
  • URL - url? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by otisg ( 92803 ) on Monday August 16, 2004 @02:24PM (#9983049) Homepage Journal
    Are we also going to start lower-casing acronyms?
    It seems that everything that requires a bit more thinking or complexity, even if it's trivial, gets simplified. That is why we no longer have beautiful architecture, furniture, et cetera with ornaments, but rather super-simple, utilitarian everything.
  • by dacarr ( 562277 ) on Monday August 16, 2004 @02:32PM (#9983152) Homepage Journal
    frigidaire xeroxes kleenex. kodak at eleven.
  • microsoft (Score:4, Funny)

    by kaleco ( 801384 ) <greig@marshall2.btinternet@com> on Monday August 16, 2004 @07:35PM (#9986194)
    They were going to decapitalise 'Microsoft', but in the end capitalism was just too much a part of their image.

The trouble with money is it costs too much!