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Stop capitalizing "internet"!

Filed under: Personal   Tagged: ,

Says Jeff Hunt at Here and There, who, in his preoccupation with capitalization, is surely a person after my own heart:

I was reading an article on online journalism in The New Yorker by Columbia University's Nicholas Lemann, and suddenly all those uppercase Is starting popping off the page, stabbing me in the...nevermind.

It became so, so clear, right there, in a single instance as I boarded my BART train ─ internet should be treated as the internet itself would treat it.

You may thinking such a basis is ridiculous, and that, if carried out to its logical conclusion, the word may end up looking something like "nturnt."

But really. Why capitalize? The internet is no longer novel or particularly well-revered by its users. Its ubiquity increases worldwide every hour, and even my mom has a web-connected computer at home now.

I cast my vote: it's time to lowercase the i in internet.

Post-script: I also abandoned capitalizing the w in web, and have never understood why some people want website to be two words.

I would have a few copyediting cavils here if I were being hopelessly petty, and never mind is only one word if you're Kurt Cobain, God rest 'im, but that would be foolish, because boy, do I agree. While you're there, read Hunt's busy is bullshit post, likely inspired (as a commenter notes) by Alex Williams's Times story "Pencil It In Under 'Not Happening.'" [Hunt has since written to let me know it was actually just one of those weird harmonic convergences.] Even better than that, though, is an opinion piece I've been quoting since January: Bob Morris's fantastic prescription for New Yorkers to stop with all the plan-canceling. He writes, but you really have to read all of it because it's much funnier in context,

First, stop canceling social plans for no good reason. While it's acceptable to cancel due to severe illness or a transit strike, it is impolite to cancel because you are "stressed" or "overwhelmed."

We are all stressed and overwhelmed. When is the last time anyone you know in this Type A society admitted to having nothing to do? Canceling devalues the importance of another's time. It is also the bane of every well-meaning host.

Not long ago Andrew Solomon, the author of "The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression" and a generous host, had seven people cancel for dinner.

"One of them told me she had just gone to the gym and came home depressed," he said. "I told her, 'Listen I was so depressed I wrote a book about depression, and unless I was hospitalized with it, I would always show up for dinner parties.' "

That's because he has a sense of decorum.

But anyone who has tried to give a New Year's dinner knows decorum flies out the window with guests who can't commit -- bringing me to another resolution.

Stop treating invitations casually, whether for weddings or country weekends. I can't stand when friends leave me hanging.

"People don't R.S.V.P. because they're hedging their bets," said Michael Bassett, a lawyer who entertains often. "They leave it up to you to call them, and sometimes they still won't give you an answer."

Maybe that's because they've become so used to ignoring voice-mail messages.

And while we're on the telephone, here's another resolution for others: Stop picking it up when you can't talk. It's an act of aggression, and is the single best reason call-waiting should be discontinued. Cont'd.

I can't say I've stopped doing this altogether, but I'm much more aware of the hideousness of this illness now, and am gradually reforming. Eventually I will stop being a plan-canceler for good. Let's join the revolution!

Update: I've gotten a very long letter about this extremely pressing question (that of capitalizing Internet and Web, that is), which I will publish with the writer's permission. Also, I hope I've conveyed that I agree with Jeff Hunt about not capping internet; after all, I've called for one-wording "email." Sorry about the Kurt quip, Jeff! No hard feelings, I hope.

Nick Lemann "Not Resisting the Web"
Back to the Future


My mother once offered to heat up some lasagna for me “on the internet.” “Just put it on the internet,” she kept repeating. “for a couple minutes.”Finally I realized she thinks everything in a white, square plastic casing with a screen is capable of heating up lasagna.How’s that for someone blissfully not internet-savvy? Let’s ask my mom if it needs a capital “I”!:)

No hard feelings taken, Emily (your name is one word, right? ha!)As for Kurt, the dead are fair game, no?(As an aside, I plan on compiling a very a work-in-progress listing of all my problem words and phrases [and possibly symbols too] soon. one is: why a comma before “too”? don’t like that one bit.)

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