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Internet, Web Enjoy One Final Day As Proper Nouns (go.com) 211

An anonymous reader writes: The Internet and Web will be downgraded to "internet" and "web" tomorrow with the new edition of the AP Stylebook. Therefore, today marks their last day as proper nouns. The AP Stylebook is a manual that many journalists follow, offering a comprehensive guide to the usage of words, style, spelling and punctuation. "The argument for lowercasing Internet is that is has become wholly generic, like electricity and the telephone. It never was trademarked and is not based on any proper noun," writes Tom Kent, AP Standards Editor. "The best reason for capitalizing it in the past may have been that the term was new. At one point, we understand, 'Phonograph' was capitalized." The two names will join the likes of website (formerly Web site) and email (formerly e-mail).
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Internet, Web Enjoy One Final Day As Proper Nouns

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  • typical commenter (Score:4, Informative)

    by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Tuesday May 31, 2016 @08:30PM (#52222307) Journal

    "The best reason for capitalizing it in the past may have been that the term was new."

    Wonderful research this guy has done here, couldn't he even bother to read Wikipedia before opening his slap trap? Wikipedia would have told him clearly:

    The words internetwork and internet is simply a contraction of the phrase interconnected network. However, when written with a capital "I," the Internet refers to the worldwide set of interconnected networks.

    People who don't do basic research are the reason we get cynical demagogues for presidential candidates. There is no forgiveness for Tom Kent, may he burn in the deepest circle of hell with the morons.
    Q: "Why are you in hell Tom?"
    A: "I don't deserve it, I was the smartest man in the world, everything I knew about came from Facebook reposts."

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      You seem to have misunderstood what he was saying. Read it again, carefully:

      "The best reason for capitalizing it in the past may have been that the term was new."

      He is saying that it shouldn't be capitalized, regardless of what Wikipedia thinks, but that it was anyway and the best reason anyone can come up with for that may be simply that it was a new term.

      When we talk about "the internet" there is no need for capitalization, in the same way that when we talk about "the capital" there isn't because although there are many capital cities we are assuming that the listener will know which one w

      • by epine ( 68316 )

        He is saying that it shouldn't be capitalized, regardless of what Wikipedia thinks, but that it was anyway and the best reason anyone can come up with for that may be simply that it was a new term.

        Then he goes and uses "Phonograph" as a comparable, showing off how little he understands about the ubiquitous bound forms featuring the word "the" as the first element, and why that might give off an edible smell to the proper noun olfactory gland, even though it's just some chemical in a test tube with a dubious

      • He is saying that it shouldn't be capitalized, regardless of what Wikipedia thinks, but that it was anyway and the best reason anyone can come up with for that may be simply that it was a new term.

        It's pretty clear that he didn't read Wikipedia, because that is not the best reason anyone can come up with, and furthermore I think you are a moron for actually thinking that's the best reason anyone can come up with, and also, your explanation is kind of dumb because Capitol is capitalized. But cool you're trying to defend someone.

      • Oh, and also, he could have looked in OED, which would have given him the correct answer.
  • Which internet? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by omnichad ( 1198475 ) on Tuesday May 31, 2016 @08:31PM (#52222317) Homepage

    Nobody talks about any other internet when they say Internet. It's a proper place name just as much as Asia.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      This is just it. The journalists obviously are clueless about what they are writing about if they use "internet". It's called "The Internet" because it is a singular, proper thing. It would be like saying "The united states" or "The queen", it's bad grammar.

      • No. "The United States" is a charted, deliberate single entity. There is no "internet," really. There are thousands (millions?) of networks that talk to each other through common protocols. When we talk about an internetworked collection of networks (for convenience, "internet"), that's like saying the US is made up by a collection of states (not States).
        • There are governing authorities of specific standards and technologies to ensure that there is ONE Internet and that everyone on it can communicate.

          Or should ICANN and IANA change their names? What do they govern now?

          • Or should ICANN and IANA change their names? What do they govern now?

            They govern standards, not the infrastructure. Which is why you can use those same standards in a completely separate network of networks that isn't in any way connected to the corporate, government, academic, and personal networks that happen to be what we use shorthand to refer to as "the internet." Just like we don't say we're going to head down The Driveway and then use some Roads and The Highway System to make a trip to work.

            • by Dr. Evil ( 3501 )

              No, they govern common infrastructure in a single place known as the Internet. Specifically the DNS system and the numbers. They exist specifically to ensure uniqueness in this single entity.

              That's why when people refer to "google.com" they're not referring to your local DNS servers' record for your houseplant. It's because there is a capital-I Internet.

              IETF handles standards. I left them off the list because their reason to exist isn't exclusively to the Internet, but they also handle standards whic

              • No, they ensure unique numbers/names for those that want to play along. If you don't want to play by their rules, you can have your own 'google.com' on your own network, pointing to whatever IP address you want. Where is the internet? You can't answer that because it's a reference to optional behavior on the part of network operators who want to get involved in peering with other networks - it's not a thing, and it's certainly not a place. It's a concept, sort of like "driving on the right" or "league bowli
                • by Cederic ( 9623 )

                  Yes, but it still exists.

                  Just because it's loosely defined, optionally implemented, constantly in flux and generally quite ineffable doesn't preclude its genuine reality and the usefulness of it having a name.

                  It's called the Internet. If you really want to bitch about something, focus on the lower case t on the.

                  • Just because it's loosely defined, optionally implemented, constantly in flux and generally quite ineffable doesn't preclude its genuine reality and the usefulness of it having a name.

                    Lots of things have names. Like "the telephone system" and "life insurance" and "commercial agriculture" and "the postal system" and "shopping malls" and "the film industry" and "rail freight" and "bulletin boards." Do you walk down the hall to pin something on the dormitory bulletin board, or the Bulletin Board? Do you pick up the phone and make a call on the Telephone System? Do might use the US Postal Service, but do you tell people that you're Mailing them a letter? The only reason anyone ever stuck a

    • Nobody talks about any other internet when they say Internet. It's a proper place name just as much as Asia.

      Exactly. I learned that "Internet" is capitalized because the word "internet" is a generic term for a network of networks. The Internet (with a capital "I") is the internet that most of us use.

  • Generic? (Score:5, Informative)

    by OrangeTide ( 124937 ) on Tuesday May 31, 2016 @08:35PM (#52222347) Homepage Journal

    Wouldn't there have to be more than one Internet for there to be an internet? Is Internet 2 another internet, or is it a research WAN?

    What do I call this network I am on now? I tend to call it the Internet.

    I usually call the planet I'm standing on "Earth" and not "earth". Although I can use the word "earth" for just about any pile of dirt.

    I certainly recommend calling the start that Earth revolves around the Sun and not a sun. A lowercase "sun" is a useful generic term for the many suns of the universe. Sol is another name we like to use for the Sun, but "Sol" not necessarily the preferred name in English.

    • Re:Generic? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by swillden ( 191260 ) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Tuesday May 31, 2016 @09:11PM (#52222523) Homepage Journal

      Exactly. There is and always has been a reason to distinguish between the general concept of an internet, and the specific, publicly-accessible, globe-spanning Internet.

      However, I guess that it is very rare for AP articles to need to draw that distinction. Whatever. I'm going to continue using "Internet" to refer to the Internet and "internet" to refer to the concept of an internet.

    • I remember being told at one point in school that "Earth" should be capitalized unless you are saying "the earth" (both referring to the planet obviously). But even then I thought it didn't make sense. Also, why do we refer to some proper nouns with "the" and not others? And there are exceptions both ways...

      "Earth is the 3rd planet from the Sun." Perfectly fine.
      "The Earth is the 3rd planet from the Sun." Also fine.
      "Mars is the 4th planet from the Sun." No problem.
      "The Mars is the 4th planet from the Sun." W

      • "Earth is the 3rd planet from the Sun." Perfectly fine. "The Earth is the 3rd planet from the Sun." Also fine. "Mars is the 4th planet from the Sun." No problem. "The Mars is the 4th planet from the Sun." Wrong. "The Mars is the 4th planet from Sun." Double wrong.

        What. The. Hell.

        The difference is that "earth" is both the dirt beneath your feet and a specific planet in space, so you need different phrases to tell the two meanings apart. There's no such issue with Mars, which has always been a proper noun.

        • To add to this, the proper name of the sun is "Sol", not "Sun". (though both terms original from ancient gods, Norse Sunne and Roman Sol).
          Interestingly, no one ever refers to it as Helios, though helio is used as a prefix or suffix to describe attributes relative to the sun : heliotropic, heliocentric, perihelion, etc..
      • "I is..."

        "No, you say 'I am.'"

        "Oh, right. I am the ninth letter of the alphabet."

    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      Wouldn't there have to be more than one Internet for there to be an internet? Is Internet 2 another internet, or is it a research WAN?

      What do I call this network I am on now? I tend to call it the Internet.

      Well, for technical papers, you wouldn't use the AP Style Guide. You'd use the style guide appropriate for the paper.

      The AP Style Guide basically applies to general common use by laypeople - if you ask them, there is only one "internet" and that's the one they do their Facebook, etc on. They may have an i

      • There is also a difference between.

        I need an internet connection.
        and
        I need a connection to the Internet.

        I personally would capitalize the later but not the first, previous AP guide said that both should be capitalized.

        I wonder if there is a difference between. "The Internet is down," and, "My internet is down" ??

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Is Tokyo the Capital of Japan, or is Paris the capital of France?

  • by Xylantiel ( 177496 ) on Tuesday May 31, 2016 @08:35PM (#52222349)
    There is only one Internet. That's what the capital is for. It is a proper noun indicating the network of all globally routable addresses. If the people at the AP are so clueless as to not know that, no wonder the news is so bad.
    • by hey! ( 33014 )

      You expect reporters to understand that?

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      "If the people at the AP are so clueless..."

      It's worse than that. There are many "Style" guides out there, the AP guide is supposed to be for general Journalism with a specific audience- it's the "Associated Press" after all. Grab a story off of the teletype, change a few words, and send it out to be typeset. Reuters and UPI have their own Style guides, and they can be very catty about capitalization, commas, abbreviations, and the like.
      At the Lab, we had several style guides, again meant for the several

    • If the people at the AP are so clueless as to not know that, no wonder the news is so bad.

      I have to wonder how many other stupid decisions are in the AP style guide. There was always a reason I couldn't put my finger on that I despised that guide when I was in college. This decision helps illuminate my "irrational" dislike for it.

    • Whatever happened to Internet 2?

    • No, there are millions of internets. One of them runs in my house, another at my office, and a 3rd at the data center we use ... they are all connected to other internets via The Internet.

      The AP is clueless and regularly makes changes that are just fucking stupid in order to have something to do, but that doesn't actually change that your usage of internet is specific to one collection of internets and ignores the actual proper usage of the word.

      The Internet is different from my internets, or my intranets.

  • by jfdavis668 ( 1414919 ) on Tuesday May 31, 2016 @08:49PM (#52222413)
    I don't tend to use anything else.
  • by Roger W Moore ( 538166 ) on Tuesday May 31, 2016 @08:50PM (#52222419) Journal
    I would have thought the Oxford English Dictionary was the usual arbiter of the English language. They actually make note of the difference between its use without a capital letter and with:

    Originally (with lower-case initial): a computer network comprising or connecting a number of smaller networks, such as two or more local area networks connected by a shared communications protocol; an internetwork; spec. such a network (called ARPANET) operated by the United States Department of Defence. In later use (usually the Internet): the global network comprising a loose confederation of interconnected networks using standardized communication protocols...

    This is far better researched than a style guide used by US journalists which seems to have made the change entirely for arbitrary reasons. It also makes sense to capitalize it since there is only one, well unless you get your language from George Bush but I'd hate to think they are using him as an inspiration.

  • Slashdot editors, however, will continue to ignore all rules of grammar, punctuation, and spelling, and continue their decades-long campaign to commit atrocities against the English language.

    • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

      Slashdot editors are all crackpots at heart, and crackpots like to Capitalize random Words because it Seems Biblical or Something.

  • by Red_Chaos1 ( 95148 ) on Tuesday May 31, 2016 @09:08PM (#52222503)

    This does not make sense to me. It's not just "a" Internet or "a" Web, they are "the" Internet and "the" Web. Unlike the Phonograph, there are not multiple vendors and multiple versions. It's all one very unique thing.

    • by sootman ( 158191 )

      Everyone has their pet peeves on one side, and things that they don't mind or aren't aware of on the other. For example, something is either unique or it isn't, but I know people who say things like "very unique". ;-)

  • Par for the course (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Tuesday May 31, 2016 @09:13PM (#52222535)

    "The argument for lowercasing Internet is that is has become wholly generic, like electricity and the telephone. It never was trademarked and is not based on any proper noun," writes Tom Kent, AP Standards Editor. "The best reason for capitalizing it in the past may have been that the term was new.

    Bozos like this is why general press coverage of technical and scientific stories still sucks. Rather than ask someone who knows for their informed opinion, they think they already know everything so can make decisions without having to ask.

    • An internet is any collection of interconnected networks. If a company connects its Los Angeles branch LAN with its New York branch LAN so they can share files, they now have an internet.
    • The Internet is the biggest grouping of such interconnected networks, which happens to span the globe (it didn't always). It is capitalized to distinguish it from other internets.

    Lowercasing 'Internet' makes about as much sense as lowercasing Associated Press, because the AP used to be new, but now there are several other associations of press corps.

  • I can see why some people would put "internet" in the same category as utilities like cable, telephone, or telegraph, which are common nouns.

    But you would think journalists of all people would take a little more pride in their use of language, and recognize a proper noun.

    Then again, given the state of "journalism", I doubt if pride is in their vocabulary.

  • That phony word is so irritating. And while we're at it, a pox on the house of people who insist on trying to make a word out of an acronym. It's a GUI not a gooey.

    • by swb ( 14022 )

      I used to go to a lot of webinars, but since the office started refusing my mileage reimbursements for them I had to stop going.

    • In order to be an acronym by definition, the shortened version has to be pronounced as a word itself, e.g. NATO === nay-toe. What you are proposing is that we treat GUI as an initialism, where each letter is pronounced separately, e.g. FBI === eff-bee-eye.

    • It's a GUI not a gooey.

      A lot of early computer stuff, and especially early Internet were done by military, and they live pronouncing their acronyms - to the point that most people don't even know they are acronyms (see snafu and the origin of the brand name Jeep).

      Besides, how do you efficiently speak about acronymed things otherwise?

  • by ukoda ( 537183 ) on Tuesday May 31, 2016 @09:50PM (#52222685) Homepage
    I was trying to think of an analogy to use to make the point to the idiots at AP and it occurs the me that the Internet is the most widely known specific internet in the same way the Moon is the most widely know specific moon. If you wanted to be pedantic you could refer to the Moon as the moon in orbit around the Earth (or should that be the earth now?). If you call the Internet just internet how do you specify which internet you want to refer too? What about Internet2, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org], is that now internet2?

    Apparently AP think it is the moon and some people are not happy about that, http://www.airspacemag.com/dai... [airspacemag.com]
    • AP is correct about Earth's moon. 'Moon' is not its name.

      If you wanted to be specific, you would refer to Earth's moon by name, Luna.

      Moon is generic. Luna is specific.

      internet is generic. The Internet is specific.

      The fact that you don't know the name of the moon is the real problem in your post.

      • If you wanted to be specific, you would refer to Earth's moon by name, Luna.

        No you wouldn't. Its name is "the Moon."

        http://planetarynames.wr.usgs.... [usgs.gov]

        Moon is generic. Luna is specific.

        The word "moon" is generic. "The Moon" is specific.

        • by Cederic ( 9623 )

          No you wouldn't. Its name is "the Moon."

          Not always. Sometimes its name is "Oh fuck, what is that big round thing?! Holy shit it's coming towards us! Quick, run, save yourself - every man for himself"

          Depends on context and substances.

      • by ukoda ( 537183 )
        I knew Luna is the Latin name for the Moon, but I speak English not Latin. I have never hear anyone say how bright or how beautiful Luna looks. Pink Floyd didn't release and album call "Dark side of Luna" or "Dark side of a moon". How about NASA, you know, the guys who have actually been there? They do tend to be more precise usually referring to it as the Earth's Moon though are rather flexible about Moon vs moon. They mention lunar but not Luna. Even their URL has moon, not luna, http://solarsystem. [nasa.gov]
  • The following sentence shows the appropriate capitalization.

    The internetworking protocol of the Internet is the internet.

  • so, i don't care!

    shift is for noobs

  • by swell ( 195815 ) <jabberwockNO@SPAMpoetic.com> on Wednesday June 01, 2016 @12:23AM (#52223233)

    How many of these words need capitals?
    Internet,
    Web
    Enjoy
    One
    Final
    Day
    As
    Proper
    Nouns

  • "The argument for lowercasing Internet is that is has become wholly generic[...]"

    I don't think that's the case. Everyone still refers to it as "the" Internet, since there are lots of networks, but there's only one Internet. It's not like there are lots of internets out there (like one of the bad examples, "telephone"), and it's alo not a natural phenomenon like the other bad example, "electricity". It's the one, and I can't see why it couldn't be kept capitalized. I don't much care if it's lower case of n
  • I thought "web" reached EOL a decade ago.
  • by Panoptes ( 1041206 ) on Wednesday June 01, 2016 @01:48AM (#52223423)

    The AP Stylebook is an American product, written by and for American journalists. Saying that the Internet should henceforth be 'internet' is a parochial decision without global authority.

    In Britain the standard is set by the Oxford University Press, which has a rather longer and more illustrious history than the AP Stylebook. When the OUP and the Oxford English Dictionary declare that the word should not be capitalised, I shall accept their authority. Until then, it's the Internet for me.

    • by olau ( 314197 )

      In Britain the standard is set by the Oxford University Press, which has a rather longer and more illustrious history than the AP Stylebook.

      Has the Oxford University Press even discovered the internet yet?

  • by olau ( 314197 ) on Wednesday June 01, 2016 @02:41AM (#52223527) Homepage

    A better example is the electric grid. Or the highway network.

    Yes, it's true that for many years, there has been an common explanation for why "the Internet" should be capitalized, but I think what people here need to realize that one logical deduction does not make language. These things are much weirder.

    I can see why you're annoyed. In Danish, the same decision was made years ago. I think for people don't give a damn about networks the capital "I" just looks plain weird.

  • The decision demonstrates considerable ignorance on a number of levels. "Phonograph" is a common noun, but more to the point there are more phonographs than one. In common parlance, the term "Internet" refers to the one and only Internet. True, you can have separate internets and lowercase them if you wish (and it even seems desirable to distinguish them from the Internet). In the term "Internet Protocol(s)", the capital letters are also fully justified by the fact that IP(s) are proper names.

    As for the Web

  • Internet, Web Enjoy One Final Day As Proper Nouns

    Meanwhile Slashdot is making up for it by capitalising words whether they are proper nouns or not.

    Title case is ridiculous.

    And it is okay to use the word "and". This is the Internet (or the internet). You're not paying by the byte for bandwidth and there's no physical space restriction so there's no need to replace it with a comma.

    Why are the "new media" so intent on hanging on to the pointless traditions of the past?

  • Because there is one and only one Internet.

    There are many Telephones and many Phonographs, but only one Internet.

    The Internet is the network of networks....

    Internet is kind of like the word Universe, or "The Big Bang Theory"

    Theoretically more than one could exist, BUT new ones will not be called Internet.

    For example: An experimental network of networks has been called the Internet2

    New network of networks will not be called Internet. The Internet is only one specific global arrangement of ne

  • Seriously, fuck 'em. As with so many others here, I shall mock them if they don't understand why it's got a capital.

  • In common usage, the Internet is a place. "My wife and I met on the Internet" is no different than "My wife and I met on Earth".

    When it's not being used as a place, by all means down-case it, "I had a hard time getting internet access at my hotel" versus "I had a hard time getting onto the Internet from my hotel".

  • In general, there is no sole arbiter of what words, grammar or syntax is English. English is largely defined by common usage.

    The Oxford English Dictionary, and other popular dictionaries or encyclopedia may well be used as supporting evidence for how we use English, but I certainly don't look to the Associated Press, as reported by ABC News, as a strong basis for what I should be doing with my speech and writing.

  • by dwheeler ( 321049 ) on Wednesday June 01, 2016 @10:16AM (#52225043) Homepage Journal
    Tom Kent falsely claims that, "The argument for lowercasing Internet is that is has become wholly generic, like electricity and the telephone." Here's a thought experiment: I'll create a few disconnected networks, interconnect them, but *not* to the Internet. By definition, any set of interconnected networks is an internet (but not *the* Internet). Then I'll sell a service that lets people access my internet... which lacks Google, Wikipedia, and many other things. I bet he'll suddenly find that "the Internet" is *NOT* generic - it is a *specific* set of interconnected networks, which has a proper name. Governments still routinely create interconnected networks that use TCP/IP, but do *NOT* connect to the Internet - especially when security is critical. AP may be unaware of this, but it's still true. Upper/lower casing in the end isn't THAT critical. The REAL problem is that too many reporters do not understand what they're reporting about, nor do they check their sources to find out. The difference between "Internet" and "internet" have been documented for decades. Failure to understand, and failure to check sources, is the REAL problem here.
  • See https://tools.ietf.org/html/rf... [ietf.org] .

    An internet is any computer network which is addressed by Internet Protocol.

    The Internet is the large super-network of a bunch of interconnected internets.

    RFC-1918 is the perfect example of these distinct uses. I firmly believe that since the second aforementioned use is a particular collection of internets, that the correct usage is as a proper noun. You can connect multiple private internets, but that would not constitute the Internet.
  • There is only one Internet

    everything else is an intranet /discussion

  • "The argument for lowercasing 'Internet' is that is has become wholly generic, like electricity and the telephone."

    Except that there's only one Internet, not dozens of different kinds or brands of the internet. It depends on how you're using the word. While you can use these words in a generic sense, if you're talking about the Internet, it is a proper noun. Same with the Web, short for the World Wide Web.

  • by gavron ( 1300111 ) on Wednesday June 01, 2016 @12:59PM (#52226255)

    Internet is capitalized to distinguish between "internetwork" (interconnected-networks) and THE global internetwork using IP -- The Internet (caps).

    Tom Kent's comments that "The BEST reason MAY HAVE BEEN" blah blah blah does a disservice to anyone who could either research this very simple thing, or ask someone who knows. It's not anything he says it is. Also there's no connection between a trademark (requiring an individual or company to register exclusive use in commerce) with the capitalization of a word!!! Truly this guy is a marvel in not knowing anything about words.

    They can stop capitalizing it. The word internet and the word Internet will still be different, the former being any networks tied together, and the latter being The Internet.

    E

  • APs failure to understand difference between the Internet and an internet is far from surprising. These failures have become so commonplace the definition of Journalism (US) effective tomorrow has officially changed to more accurately reflect present day usage.

    journalism (ËjÉ(TM)r-na-ËOEli-zam)
    Noun.
    "Process of bumbling basic facts, hyperbole and trolling for profit"

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