Saturday, November 11, 2017

You say "the internet", I say "the Internet"...

My friend Nick Feamster recently twote something that resonated with me:
I still bristle whenever I read Internet with a lowercase "i".  The Internet is one specific instance of an "internetwork". People who write editorial style guides for tech should be required to take a networking class, or at least a history of networking class.
(The perspicacious reader will note that this happened after the 280calypse)
Having been involved for many years with the Internet, and the Internet Engineering Task Force, and the Internet Society, my first thought was "YES! Exactly this happens to me all the time."
But then I read the whole tweet, and much of the discussion, and found that I agree even more with Heather E. Merrick, who responded:
The AP Style Guide used to call for this but they grew up in 2016.
...especially after she countered Nick's remark that AP's editors "should clue up on history, and the use of proper nouns" with this explanation:
They used to, and then they wised up to the reality that language is not in the hands of any one person or industry but The People, who enjoy using a lowercase "i," hence the update to the Stylebook.
 Ratul Mahajan put it more succinctly (adding a friendly health tip):
inevitable success disaster
So you built the "Internet", and other people write about the "internet". My pro tip: Take it as a huge compliment: The thing you built has become an important part of their environment. Too vital to be considered some brand name anymore. But of course if you want to be sad about people "minimizing" your invention, that's your choice. Here's a kleenex for you!
Yes, I'll continue to write Internet with a capital I. Just like I write the name of my employer as "SWITCH" as we're told to, even though everybody always does it wrong and writes "Switch". But I stopped getting mad at those people, it's just not helpful. Instead I thank them for letting me continue to use the "correct" spelling.
When they tell me I have to stop, I'll just turn their internet off, that'll show them.

"...let's turn the turning off off", OK?