It's Just the 'internet' Now?


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.


Then you have the people like me who remember the days of whether it was Internet, internet, InterNet, or InterNET. Though as far as I'm concerned the Internet (oops, internet) has become so commonplace and so well known as a tool for entertainment and information, it is probably about time that we stop treating it like a proper noun. By this time, most people know what the internet is, billions have used it, and even those who have no access to a computer have some idea of what it is.

So I figure the word doesn't need capitalization for the same reason that we don't capitalize car or donut. We capitalize the brand names of car and donut manufacturers like Ford or Krispy Kreme, but what they produce is treated normally. Since the internet doesn't have a brand name or a single producer/manufacturer, then there's really no reason it needs to be capitalized in the first place.

Hmm? You clever capitalists, what do you say to that?

I wrote the original text above after seeing the Wired piece linked to on a Web4Lib post. Then I submitted the same text to Slashdot, which Taco posted a few hours later.If you can make /. and LISHost display the same time zone you should be able to verify that the latter story was posted first.I chose to make the submission anonymously, although I'm not sure why now. I thought at least Taco would say "anon writes:" before quoting me directly.I submitted another story about a few days ago with my Slashdot name (tiltowait)and a backlink. It's still shows "pending," so perhaps that one is in the long-term queue to be posted.

Bad analogies, IMHO.Model names are capitalized as a general rule; that adds no insight to whether we capitalize classes of things and/or singular entities.We don't capitalize "telecommunications network" because, to paraphrase what you said, it's a class. The Internet, on the other hand, is understood to be the super-entity comprising the entirety of the interconnected worldwide computer networks. Split one off, and it's properly an "internet"; take them as an aggregate, and the "Internet" applies.The moment it becomes ambiguous to refer to an entity known as "the Internet", some grammatical refactoring may become necessary; as things stand, the Internet, cap-I, is correct.

There is also not just one Honda Reflex motorscooter. There are multiple years and features on each one produced, but we still capitalize the model name (Reflex) even though we know there's not just one.

There is just one telecommunications network, but we feel no need to capitalize it as Telecommunications Network. Even so, if you break the telecommunications network down, you'll find that it's a network of networks. If the grid in Dallas goes to hell, it doesn't mean that the grid in Seattle is doomed too. The internet is no different. If a backbone dies in New York, it'll have an effect on the net no doubt, but the rest of the world will function pretty well without that bit of the network until it comes back. So we're not only speaking of devices connected to the entity that is the internet, but also the networks that connect to that same entity.

I made a note on this on slashdot and someone replied with different time stamps for the articles. 143&threshold=-1&commentsort=0&tid=95&mode=thread& cid=9983065

I wonder who is grabbing stuff from who.

There is not one "Telephone", one "Television", or one "Telegraph", just as there is not one "Computer". I'm talking about the network known as the Internet, not the devices connected via it.

Posted This Morning.Posted This Afternoon.I guess CmdrTaco reads LISNews, or John & CmdrTaco shared a source.

It's not capital "T" Telephone, Television, or Telegraph, though. Those are forms of mass communication or broadcast, as is the I/internet, so it's sort of the same deal, imho.

The Internet isn't a mass commodity, however; there is exactly one thing we mean when we refer to "the Internet". Plural internets should obviously be lowercased, but IMHO using lowercase for the singular-entity Internet is misguided.If there was exactly one car or one donut, and the concept furthermore excluded the notion of multiple cars or donuts, would you say the same thing?

I propose that to settle this we all agree to the following compromise:1. Internet will be capitalized when it appears at the beginning of a sentence.2. Internet will only be used at the start of sentences.3. No one will investigate the proper capitalization of the word Interstate.Internet surfing is what I am going to get back to now.

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