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Old 06-23-2010, 07:33 AM   #1
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Should ''internet'' be capitalized or lowercase?

Two longtime students of the issue say, lowercase it in all USA newspaper and websites. The UK already does this, but most US newspapers follow the AP style and the NYTimes style and that is to CAP the word Internet. But these two professors, Steve Jones and David Park, say lowercase it. What say YOU? And backup your POV with examples and reasons.

Here's the professors' take. I agree, lowercase the word now. It's 2010 already!

TEXT BEGINS

There is no ‘I’ in ‘internet’


by Steve Jones and David Park

It’s a small thing, really. Whether or not to capitalize the
word ‘Internet’ is not the kind of issue that boils the blood or
starts a war. And yet, it is important, and the time has come to take
that capital I out of this utterly ubiquitous word.
When we capitalize a word, we signify it as something special
or unique. But there is nothing very special about the internet now.
As this year’s group of college graduates will attest, the internet is
as big a deal as television. Ho-hum. (To many of them the internet is
television, but that is a subject for another time.)
Proper names are capitalized, including brand names of
products. But as Joseph Turow, author of Niche Envy, points out, we
should not think of the internet as the kind of brand-name item that
its capitalization suggests. Capitalizing ‘internet’ makes it seem
like the internet is a private zone that we must buy into or rent, as
if we are visiting Disney World. Of course, the internet itself
(which was largely created by public funding) is owned by no one in
particular, which has been—and will hopefully continue to be—one of
the intriguing things about it. We have already realized that many
features of the internet are not words to capitalize; we already use
lower-case letters for words like web, e-mail, online, blog and
cyberspace. And yet, ‘Internet’ remains with us.
The situation can be compared with America in the late 19th
century, when it was not difficult to find the word ‘phonograph’
capitalized; the capital p then seemed to indicate that there was
something new about the word, something very different about the
experiences we would associate with this device. The internet has
been shrouded in the same sense of novelty, to which the capital ‘I’
testifies. Perhaps this lingering sense of novelty owes to the
internet’s seemingly strange lack of an obvious physical presence.
Unlike television, radio, or the phonograph, the internet is not a box
you can place in your living room. We connect to the internet through
the use of computers and some connecting line or wireless device, but
these boxes and wires don’t contain the internet, they only act as
connections to, or displays for, the internet. At the same time, the
internet does not come from a specified place, as do television and
radio broadcasts; to connect to the internet is very different from
switching on the local news.
However, this novelty of the internet has quickly faded.
Younger Americans do not approach the internet as something new or
special; it has become no more or less than another part of their
day-to-day experience. In this sense, the internet has become part of
the background. Like tap water, it can be simply turned on or off.
Even without the long-promised convergence of internet with other
media, the internet has managed to converge with the everyday lives of
an entire generation. The time of novelty—the time when it might be
understandable to capitalize ‘internet’—has passed.
The persistence of the upper-case I is largely a product of
newspaper publishers (many of whom didn’t capitalize ‘television’ or
‘radio’ when those media were new) and dictionary editors, who are
perhaps waiting for there to be some change in usage before they
change their prescribed sense of how ‘internet’ is to be spelled. But
for internet users (many of whom do not capitalize any words as they
type away in chat rooms and blogs) the internet is no longer novel, no
mere trend or gadget, and while it is especially useful it is
certainly not in need of special treatment. In this sense, then, it is
up to us. A switch to ‘internet’ will not solve all of our problems,
but it may reflect that we are now ready to absorb this medium, and
truly make it our own.

-------------------------------------

AUTHOR ID: Dr Steve Jones is UIC Distinguished Professor and Professor of
Communication at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Dr David Park is
Gustav E. Beerly Jr. Associate Professor of Communication at Lake
Forest College.
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Old 06-23-2010, 07:40 AM   #2
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NOTES:

1. Michael Quinion, website editor in the UK, notes in his current newsletter World Wide Words: As a final change, I have decided to go with the majority view and
will spell the words as "website" and "internet" from now on."


2. Phillip B. Corbett, the word style editor at the new york times (sic), tells reporters that he is considering ordering the newspaper editors to start lowercasing the word "internet" ...but not so quickly, noting: "Our current style is to keep the uppercase "I." I agree that the
trend is toward lowercase, and I suspect that at some point we will
review our style. But our preference is to follow established usage,
not to lead the way. So I can't predict when the change might be
made."

3. Ted Anthony, managing editor at the Associated Press news agency, which also has a powerful style book that all newspapers must follow, or else, says he is mulling the issue over and sussing it out with his fellow editors at AP, but for now, he is sticking with
caps for "Internet" and any newspaper or website that goes lowercase will be shot!

4. What is the preferred style at mobileread.com?
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Old 06-23-2010, 07:55 AM   #3
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I not not think that matters a whole lot whether it is capitalized or not, but I usually do use the capital form. My logic is that "an internet" is simply a network that interconnects two or more networks, while "the Internet" is a single worldwide interconnection of networks. There is only one Internet, unlike the comparisons in the article to the examples of radio or television. There is only one Internet, while there are many internets and intranets.
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Old 06-23-2010, 08:52 AM   #4
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The newspaper I write for still capitalizes it, but in my personal writings and blogs, I use lowercase. I just don't see it as a proper noun, even if there is only one internet. Lowercase will eventually become the norm.
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Old 06-23-2010, 09:20 AM   #5
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Internet or internet. We can sure waste time and effort with nonsense.
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Old 06-23-2010, 09:39 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave_S View Post
I not not think that matters a whole lot whether it is capitalized or not, but I usually do use the capital form. My logic is that "an internet" is simply a network that interconnects two or more networks, while "the Internet" is a single worldwide interconnection of networks. There is only one Internet, unlike the comparisons in the article to the examples of radio or television. There is only one Internet, while there are many internets and intranets.
The comparisons to television and radio are completely irrelevant, in my opinion. It's a very specific thing, the actual backbone that connects everything and deserves a capital "I".

Personally, I think a move to use the lowercase merely indicates ignorance of what the Internet actually is.
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Old 07-03-2010, 07:41 AM   #7
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Lowercase, just like it's inventor, algore.
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Old 07-03-2010, 09:40 AM   #8
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I started writing "internet" in lowercase a couple of years ago. I have been teaching Computer Networks at a university for a long time, so I use the word quite a bit. It would be interesting to check my lecture slides to see if it is consistent there as these were developed during the time I changed from capitalized to lowercase. I don't have a change history, however. Never bothered to use version control for them.
Occasionally I still type "Internet". The last time I did, about half an hour ago, I quickly changed it lo the lowercase form.
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Old 07-03-2010, 12:44 PM   #9
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What are the grammatical rules for capitalizing words?

http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_are_t...talizing_words

* The word "I" as in "I am" must always be capitalised.
* Names of businesses, people, brands, websites, and anything aside from the common noun should be capitalised.
* The first letter of every sentence must be placed one space away from the full-stop, and, yes, must be capitalised.
* Letters succeeding punctuation marks are only capitalised after full-stops, not commas, colons, semi-colons, apostrophes, speech marks, or brackets.
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Old 07-03-2010, 01:10 PM   #10
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Internet should only be capitalized when it is an award E.G.; taglines gets 2 Internets for starting this thread on the internet.

Website should only be capitalized when referring to a specific website E.G.; The Mobileread Website is among many websites focusing on electronic book reading devices (EBoReDs).

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Old 07-03-2010, 02:07 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by happy_terd View Post
* Names of businesses, people, brands, websites, and anything aside from the common noun should be capitalised.
So the question is `is "internet" a common noun?'
I think it wasn't a decade ago, but now it is.
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Old 07-05-2010, 01:55 PM   #12
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I feel it should be lowercase for internets in general (any network of networks) but the global Internet should be capitalised since it's a singular thing.
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Old 07-05-2010, 03:19 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave_S View Post
I not not think that matters a whole lot whether it is capitalized or not, but I usually do use the capital form. My logic is that "an internet" is simply a network that interconnects two or more networks, while "the Internet" is a single worldwide interconnection of networks. There is only one Internet, unlike the comparisons in the article to the examples of radio or television. There is only one Internet, while there are many internets and intranets.
Ditto.
Quote:
Originally Posted by HamsterRage View Post
The comparisons to television and radio are completely irrelevant, in my opinion. It's a very specific thing, the actual backbone that connects everything and deserves a capital "I".

Personally, I think a move to use the lowercase merely indicates ignorance of what the Internet actually is.
Ditto.
Quote:
Originally Posted by happy_terd View Post
What are the grammatical rules for capitalizing words?

http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_are_t...talizing_words

* The word "I" as in "I am" must always be capitalised.
* Names of businesses, people, brands, websites, and anything aside from the common noun should be capitalised.
* The first letter of every sentence must be placed one space away from the full-stop, and, yes, must be capitalised.
* Letters succeeding punctuation marks are only capitalised after full-stops, not commas, colons, semi-colons, apostrophes, speech marks, or brackets.
Since there is only one Internet, I don't think yo can call it a 'common noun'.
Quote:
Originally Posted by pietvo View Post
So the question is `is "internet" a common noun?'
I think it wasn't a decade ago, but now it is.
No, a 'common noun' would be a horse, a car, a woman, a table, etc. Things of which there are numerous instances. There is only one, single Internet.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kirtai View Post
I feel it should be lowercase for internets in general (any network of networks) but the global Internet should be capitalised since it's a singular thing.
Ditto.

But I fear those of us who prefer 'I' are in a minority because most people simply don't know (or care) whether there are one or more internets and don't understand the reasoning behind. So we'd better just get used to it and spend our energy on more productive things. Not that it doesn't irk me
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Old 07-05-2010, 03:59 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by taglines View Post
When we capitalize a word, we signify it as something special or unique.
No, when we capitalize a word, we signify it as a proper noun: a name of a singular thing, not a descriptive term that applies to a whole category of things.

The Internet is a specific, unique, named example of a computer network. There is only one Internet; it's not an internet. "The Internet" is its name, just like "Worldwalker" is my (pen) name, not a descriptive term. The Internet is a network; Worldwalker is a forum member; the Empire State Building is a building.

"Specialness" has nothing to do with it; the US Army's capitalization of "soldier" is an abomination. So is the idea that any adjective which applies to a human being (black, deaf, whatever) should be capitalized. Capitalization is for proper nouns, and words derived from proper nouns (Asian, for instance, since it's derived from the proper noun Asia). Not just because you think something is Special or Important.
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Old 07-05-2010, 04:03 PM   #15
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Worldwalker, that was very well said
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