It should be just the 'internet' now
By Tony Long
San Francisco -- Back in 2004, I told readers of Wired magazine's
website that "effective with this sentence, Wired News will no longer
capitalize the "I" in internet."
I also informed them, also in that 2004 note, that "at the same time,
Web becomes web and Net becomes net."
Why did I got out on a limb in 2004 on lowercasing internet? The
simple answer was then -- and is now, in 2011 -- because there was
and is no earthly reason to capitalize the word.
True believers, of course, are fond of capitalizing words, whether
they be marketers or political junkies or, in this case, techies. If
It's Capitalized, It Must Be Important.
My decision on lowerccasing internet back in 2004 when I was Wired
News' copy chief the decision wasn't made lightly,
and I believe that I was right, and even more right some eight years
later. Still, most newspapers and news websites in America still
capitalize the word.
At the time, I felt strongly that a change in Wired News' house style
was necessary to put into perspective what the internet was then and
is even more so now: just another medium for delivering and receiving
information. That it transformed human communication is beyond
dispute. But no more so than moveable type did in its day. Or the
radio. Or television. And American newspaper
editors once capitalized Radio and Television.
I felt then and I feel even more so today that by lowercasing
internet, Wired News was simply giving the medium its proper due.And
yet in the ensuing years, not much has changed on this side of the
Atlantic. In Britain, yes, internet is routinely written in
the lowercase form. Do the Brits know something about the internet
that we don't know? Or are American copyeditors just being
Some editors, of course, still have mixed feelings about this issue,
but many are now leaning towards -- but not committed to --
American blogger Tom Blumer makes sense when he contemplates
lowercasing the word: "Is it a place (the big web in the sky)? Not
really. Is it a specific entity? Again not really."
On the other hand, I realize that some people still feel that the
internet is a specific network and therefore deserves a capital.
I'm with the Brits on this: it's time to go lowercase.
Could it be that the American media is holding out against lowercasing
the Internet because they just don’t want to be seen as downgrading Al
Gore’s invention, as Blumer quipped on his blog?
In the end, everyone knows know that things are trending down and the
handwriting is on the wall on this issue.
Tom Long is a former copy desk chief at Wired News