Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Newsflash: it's still the Internet

The New York Times is relegating "the Internet" to lowercase.

The paper cites the AP's recent decision to do the same as the impetus for its decision. The decision has been a while coming as common usage apparently has been heading in that direction.

Mr. Kent, of The A.P., said of the devotion to the capital I, “Some people feel sort of physically deep in their soul that it’s a proper noun.”

“They would compare it to a physical place with a proper name. But I just don’t think most people see it that way anymore,” he added. “For younger people, it’s always been there; it’s like water.”

That's "Thomas Kent, The A.P.'s standards editor"; the capitalization of "The A.P." is per the Times article and "The A.P." is cited mulitiple times in the article, so it wasn't a mistake. I'm sure the Times follows the A.P.'s own guidelines for how to cite "The A.P." in news articles. It's therefore quite funny that both The A.P. and the Times have chosen to de-capitalize the Internet.

If The A.P. is so determined to remind everyone that there is only one Associated Press, why is it so determined to erase the fact that there is only one Internet?

Yes, Virginia, there is only one Internet. There are many internetworks, but there is only one Internet. It's the one based on the standard TCP/IP protocol stack and publicly visible Internet Protocol addresses.

Thomas Kent, though, will have none of that.

“In our view, it’s become wholly generic, like ‘electricity or the ‘telephone,’ ” he said. “It was never trademarked. It’s not based on any proper noun. The best reason for capitalizing it in the past may have been that the word was new. But at one point, I’ve heard, ‘phonograph’ was capitalized.”
Thomas Kent is wholly ignorant of what the Internet is. It's not a descriptor for a device or a natural phenomenon. It is a proper noun! It is the name of an entity. He's not a subject-matter expert so I don't fault him for not knowing, but I do fault him for not talking to people who do know.

A.P. — or should I say "a.p." — you and the times have it wrong.

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