back to article Capitalize 'Internet'? AP says no – Vint Cerf says yes

While nerds have the pronunciation of "gif" to argue over, the rest of the world continues to battle over whether the word "internet" should be capitalized or not. This week the Associated Press stepped into the breach and announced from here on in, it would use a lowercase "internet" and a lowercase "web." Starting today, AP …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    bbc, next time, please. That tv novelty has wore off both in us and uk.

    1. SkippyBing Silver badge

      So we're lower casing ap? I mean it's not like there's any confusion about who we're talking about.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Hm. I googled (Googled?) bbc. Produced very different results to BBC.

        1. Geoffrey W

          @TRT (or should that be trt?)

          No it didn't. You're fibbing. It gave the same results both ways, and so did bing. You just wanted to talk about big...ummmm...things.

          1. TRT Silver badge

            @Geoffrey. You got me.

            But it is important, capitalisation. For instance HOOVER is valid in Scrabble but not Words With Friends and INTERNET is not valid in SCRABBLE but is in Words With Friends. You can check that out if you want - I'm telling the truth this time.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I'm going to guess you didn't find British Born Chinese...

        3. BillG
          Headmaster

          Just as the AP created a furore when it dropped the hyphen in "e-mail" back in 2011

          Compound words start off as two words, then become hyphenated, then become one word. Examples are downstairs, WiFi, etc.

          IMO as a writer and author, when we are referring to the Internet we are obviously referring to a proper noun and we all know what we are referring to. Proper nouns are capitalized.

          OTOH I can get lazy and not want to hit that Shift key like everyone else.

          1. Lars Silver badge
            Joke

            "OTOH I can get lazy and not want to hit that Shift key like everyone else.".

            It's much worse than that, You have to keep it down and you need both hands mostly, and if you use the Caps Lock you have to hit it twice. Unfair.

  2. Dadmin

    yeah why bother with punctionation or spellloiggg errors when the screen fixes it for you toomcuyeffortright

    thats what i thought

    so go ahead and make everything lowercase because why bother shifting anyfuckingthig righ

    fiuk uu

    1. Dadmin

      andwhatabouthespacebar

      whyuseitatall

      itjustgetsinthewayofmetypingreallyfastright

      And what about English? Is that still capped? Why, it's a common fucking thing, why should I have to cap english when you know what I'm talking about already? That's what I thought, you don't think things through very well. Nice try, elreg

      Let's make this fucking CLEAR:

      New York Pizza > Chicago Style Pizza

      West Coast > East Coast

      Internet > internet

      Ren > Stimpy

      Mac > PC

      Chocolate > Peanut Butter

      Jelly > Peanut Butter

      Peanut Butter > Dog Food

      5 > 4

      > > <

      1. Geoffrey W

        whatsthepointofanykeysatallwhenallyouneedis!!!!!!!forshriekingateachother!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    facebook is now genericized

    A facebook: Any collection of user generated bullshit mixed with adverts, and people you hate.

    1. VinceH
      Facepalm

      Re: facebook is now genericized

      But that's the internet you're describing!

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: facebook is now genericized

        What! About! You Tube?! And! Yahoo!?

  4. Notas Badoff
    Headmaster

    Guidelines? m'EH?

    As for the BBC establishing guidelines for the rest of us to follow, well, the idea of guidelines seems to be rather loose with them.

    Got an invitation to take a survey on satisfaction with the BBC news site, after having already read a couple articles with embedded misspellings and oddities. The first page of the survey used the word 'seperate'.

    Nowhere _within_ the survey did they ask questions about quality or other matters. They were mainly concerned with how often I viewed videos. Could there be some correlation there?

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Guidelines? m'EH?

      I've been keeping a gallery of shit BBC news articles published online. I've almost filled my iCloud storage plan allowance. Shockingly bad.

    2. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
      Childcatcher

      Re: Guidelines? m'EH?

      As for the BBC establishing guidelines for the rest of us to follow, well, the idea of guidelines seems to be rather loose with them.

      To say the least! I just popped open my BBC Bbc ap and was faced with the horror of "Nato." That's no way to treat an acronym! At least I didn't have to work out the difference between NATO, "the Nato" and a theoretical group of natos, so it wasn't all bad.

  5. IGnatius T Foobar Bronze badge
    Happy

    Very simple

    Very simple; I learned this 25 years ago.

    An "internet" is multiple networks linked together by routers.

    The "Internet" is the global public network.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Very simple

      An "internet" is multiple networks linked together by routers.

      The "Internet" is the global public network.

      But the "Internet" is made up of all the internets, which makes it an internet itself.

      It is very, very difficult to enforce prescriptive language use. General usage tends to follow conventions and the current one (from some time in the 19th Century) is not to capitalise generics. So, we generally write the sun, the sea and the earth but will capitalise them at will when we feel a need to emphasise or differentiate.

      Split infinitives, sentences that end with prepositions are perfectly correct grammatically but that doesn't stop people saying this isn't the case. Add proper nouns that are lowercased to the list. Fighting against this is like commanding the sea. But whatever floats your boat.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Very simple

        The Earth is always capitalized when referring to the planet, and the Sun is always capitalized when referring to the star(when referring to dirt or sunlight then the words start with lower case letters). That's because, like the Internet, they are proper nouns. Split infinitives, sentences that end with prepositions being improper are myths. Capitalizing proper nouns isn't a myth, so your argument is specious. When you find yourself agreeing with the AP, it's wise to take time to reconsider.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Very simple

        "It is very, very difficult to enforce prescriptive language use."

        LOL, yes, just ask the Académie française about their attempts to discourage the use of Le Weekend and Le Carpark amongst many others.

      3. Vic

        Re: Very simple

        But the "Internet" is made up of all the internets, which makes it an internet itself.

        No, The Internet is one possible internet - currently composed of other internets - which has found public dominance.

        Another internet could be along in a few years. That would still be an internet, but wouldn't be The Internet.

        Vic.

    2. David Pollard

      Re: Very simple

      So why not capitalise the 'I' when referring to the big Internet which spans the globe. Then usage would be similar to that of other words such as parliament and queen, which are capitalised when the reference is singular and specific.

      For example; The aim of parliaments is to provide representation for the people. In Parliament today a range of views were discussed. Several kings and queens attended the event. The Queen is very fond of her dogs.

      The Grauniad has ignored this rule for some while. though whether this is because the editorial team think it is elitist or that they don't understand it is not entirely clear.

      1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        Re: Very simple

        The Guardian nowadays are oblivious to the difference between a prepositional adjective and a postpostional descriptive phrase. I've come to the conclusion that you have to actually actively fail an English language exam to get into journalism today.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: Very simple

          I've come to the conclusion that you have to actually actively fail an English language exam to get into journalism today.

          Today? The Grauniad has been known as such since time immoral... or at least since sometime after Private Eye was launched.

      2. Unep Eurobats

        Re: words such as parliament and queen

        'The queen opened parliament' is exactly the same, in this context, as 'The man slipped on the steps'. There are lots of queens and there's nothing special about the queen apart from the fact that she's ours, gawd bless 'er.

        1. Richard 12 Silver badge

          Re: words such as parliament and queen

          There are only two queens on this planet.

          Queen Elizabeth II, and Queen Margrethe II.

          So The Queen is already rather disambiguated, as nobody other than the Danish has ever heard of Margrethe.

          1. Vic

            Re: words such as parliament and queen

            There are only two queens on this planet.

            Queen Elizabeth II, and Queen Margrethe II.

            Queen Mathilde of Belgium, amongst others, might disagree with you...

            Vic.

            1. Swarthy
              Trollface

              Re: There are only two queens on this planet.

              I think RuPaul would also disagree.

      3. Vic

        Re: Very simple

        Then usage would be similar to that of other words such as parliament and queen, which are capitalised when the reference is singular and specific.

        Exactly that. Nicely put...

        Vic.

      4. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Very simple

        So why not capitalise the 'I' when referring to the big Internet which spans the globe.

        Because it is only notional and virtual?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Very simple

      Did whichever book you learned this from also define a microcomputer as a computer small enough to fit on your desk, usually at the same time as defining a mainframe and a minicomputer?

      Do you still refer to your desktop as a microcomputer? And who actually talks about minicomputers these days?

      Language changes. Especially in the technology field. Why would you think a definition made 25 years ago holds any weight today?

      1. Jeffrey Nonken

        Re: Very simple

        "Do you still refer to your desktop as a microcomputer?"

        Not generally. Not important. It's a personal computer; its actual internal makeup isn't important to me in most contexts.

        "And who actually talks about minicomputers these days?"

        I do if my conversation is in a context where the difference matters. But hardly anybody uses them any more.

        "Language changes. Especially in the technology field. Why would you think a definition made 25 years ago holds any weight today?"

        True dat, though plenty of words only 25 years old mean the same thing they did then. Even the ones that look different. (The chain printer on the IBM 360 at university looks -- and sounds -- a heckuva lot different from the inkjet on my desk, but you'd recognize both as "computer printers".) OTOH, "computer" used to mean a person who specialized in doing rapid calculations. More than 25 years ago, though. :)

    4. Baldy50

      Re: Very simple

      I agree but then what is the WWW for then, if not to represent the whole of the Internet’s put together?

      I suspect if it were easier to say in conversation it would be used more often, maybe a new word for the big picture is needed.IDK, IDC

      So when 'I Don't Know and I Don't Care' are fine, it doesn't bother me in the least as to how the word is spelled, just our language adjusting itself for modern times although i prefer to use the shift key as little as possible.

      If you say to a friend "I'll Google or Bing that for you" they'd understand what you meant, so from now on I'll use 'online' so I don't have to be worried some anal grammaticality correct at all times plonker giving me English lessons.

      Regards, Ian.

      1. tfewster Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Very simple

        Internet > WWW

        AP and the other untutored may use "internet" and "web" interchangeably, and capitalise it as they wish - popular != correct

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Very simple

        "I agree but then what is the WWW for then, if not to represent the whole of the Internet’s put together?"

        WWW != Internet. WWW = World Wide Web. Web is a term associated with HTTP and "web pages". There is no such thing as an Internet page, but there is such thing as SIP. The web is what you see in the browser. I remember when "the web" was most boring part of the Internet. Then you have the Intertube, and that my friends is where it all starts getting interesting. The next step is that you will be able to do away with science all together, since, at it's basic level, it's giving names to things. After a short while we then will not need logic and then not even language. We will have "evolved" to do away with all those pesky details and we can live in a world free from boundaries! Dazzle dazzle! shiny shiny! feeling feeling!

        1. D@v3

          Re: AC "the next step"

          You kind of lost me at getting rid of science.

          I would agree though, all Web traffic is Internet traffic, but not all Internet traffic is the WWW.

          There are massive parts of the Internet that have nothing to do with the web (file transfers, email, gaming, I wont go on). All things that use the Internet, but go no way near the WWW (apart from web mail, yes, yes, I'm leaving.....)

          On a different note, I have noticed that MS Outlook doesn't like Wifi (nor it seems does firefox, sorry Firefox) they both prefer Wi-Fi, which is a comparatively massive ballache (ball ache) to type.

  6. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Language, by it's nature (at least the English language in all it's various flavors) changes. As a tech writer in the defense industry seemingly eons ago, I used to use machine-gun... then that was changed to machinegun.

    I do think that the greater network deserves the upper case, same with Web. If for not other reason then to avoid confusion.

    1. frank ly

      Travelling Wave Amplifier Tube was changed to Travelling Wave Tube Amplifier for some reason. I noticed that when marketing departments started producing glossy brochures for them.

      1. dajames Silver badge

        Travelling Wave Amplifier Tube was changed to Travelling Wave Tube Amplifier for some reason.

        But, surely, a "Travelling Wave Amplifier Tube" is a tube (which may form part of an amplifier), while a "Travelling Wave Tube Amplifier" is an amplifier (which may incorporate some kind of tube). The terms mean different things, and one should take care to use the one with the correct meaning.

        The fact that one forms a more entertaining acronym than the other might lead us to consider terms like "TWA tube" or "TWT amplifier", but shouldn't lead us to use a term that has a different meaning from what we're trying to say.

        That way lies madness.

        1. hplasm Silver badge
          Coat

          Travelling Wave Amplifier Tube was changed to Travelling Wave Tube Amplifier for some reason.

          Which TWTA decided to do that?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          It's a device which amplifies tubes.

    2. Kubla Cant Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Language, by it's nature (at least the English language in all it's various flavors) changes. As a tech writer in the defense industry seemingly eons ago, I used to use machine-gun... then that was changed to machinegun.

      I hope that in your role as a tech writer you observed the difference between "it's" and "its". One is a contraction of "it is"; the other is the possessive form of the inanimate pronoun. It's the latter you want.

  7. Mage Silver badge

    French?

    What do they say?

    L'Académie française, institution créée en 1635, est chargée de définir la langue française par l'élaboration de son dictionnaire qui fixe l'usage du français.

    1. Yes Me Silver badge

      Re: French?

      Well, the worst of it in French is that not only don't they capitalise it, they don't even call it "Le" internet. As in, "J'ai lu sur internet que le monde est plat."

      i'm with vint cerf on this one, whatever kieren thinks.

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: French?

      Languages with language bodies can huff and puff all they want, but in the end dictionary publishers who want to remain relevant have to publish non-approved common usage (perhaps marked with something like "not official") and eventually the language body will get dragged kicking and screaming to common usage anyway.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "His reasoning is that there is a public Internet and a private internet – an internet that does not connect to the outside world but uses the same protocols. He argues: "By lowercasing you create confusion between the two and that's a mistake.""

    Isn't a private internet called an intranet? I don't see any confusion.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I still call it a LAN or simply network... Intranet was mostly a marketing term born when a marketing luser discovered HTTP works on a LAN too... and needed a new name for it. Of course the same luser who believes the Internet is an HTTP network, and works only if you use a browser. His brother later invented websockets to bring TCP/IP functionalities over the Internet...

      1. tfewster Silver badge
        Headmaster

        LAN or WAN, please - Let's not slip into shoddy luser usage ourselves ;-)

  9. Tim99 Silver badge
    Unhappy

    I'm still upset...

    ... when the barbarians shortened the word telephone to 'phone; then they called it a phone.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: I'm still upset...

      So how do you feel about television becoming "telly"? To be fair, I always used to refer to it as "A box of mind numb", but I digress.

      1. dajames Silver badge

        Re: I'm still upset...

        So how do you feel about television becoming "telly"? To be fair, I always used to refer to it as "A box of mind numb", but I digress.

        My father-in-law calls it the "idiot's lantern", a term I like and have stolen.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: I'm still upset...

      I still automatically put the leading apostrophe into 'till (until) and 'round (around) but I never remember to use it with phone ;-)

    3. Kubla Cant Silver badge

      Re: I'm still upset...

      No doubt you still telephone for a taximeter cabriolet to take you home?

      1. Tim99 Silver badge

        Re: I'm still upset...

        @Kubla Cant

        I might, if I was in the provinces. If not, I would consider a hackney carriage.

  10. David 132 Silver badge
    Headmaster

    It's "The Internet"

    ...unless you are trying to be e.e.cummings or molesworth (as any fule kno).

    I'm with Vint Cerf and earlier commentard Ignatius T Foobar on this.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: It's "The Internet"

      Surely it's t'InterWeb.

      1. TitterYeNot

        Re: It's "The Internet"

        "Surely it's t'InterWeb."

        Pfft, you mean the 'World Wide Internet' shurley...

        Joking aside, capitalisation can also be considered in terms of context. Take the noun 'moon' for example:-

        Light takes just over a second to travel between the Earth and the Moon, but over eight minutes to travel from the Sun to the Earth.

        or..

        Steven Fry contends that the Earth has many moons.

        or..

        As the moon rose in the dusky twilight and illuminated her beautiful upturned face, he clasped her more closely to him and tenderly began to undo her...

        <Ahem. Steady now Gentlemen, steady...>

        So as with many other things, it's probably not as cut and dried as some people or organisations would like to think.

  11. Steve Channell
    Joke

    the member is in congress

    Grammar is so confusing, I never know whether that phrase means "the member of the US congress is the parliament" or "the penis is undertaking sexual intercourse" but I'm sure AP has a clear view of the differences

    1. MonkeyCee Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: the member is in congress

      I gather many represenatives can manage both at the same time...

    2. Vic

      Re: the member is in congress

      I never know whether that phrase means "the member of the US congress is the parliament" or "the penis is undertaking sexual intercourse"

      Never, ever attempt to help your uncle Jack off a horse...

      Vic.

  12. Velv Silver badge
    Headmaster

    So what about The Cloud, which is of course both The Cloud as a concept of some kind of service in, ear, well The Cloud, and The Cloud which is a company that provides wifi access.

  13. Martin-73 Silver badge

    I went to AP's Twitter (or twitter?) feed... and saw a horror.

    They use "Webster's New World dictionary" (or 'webstas noo werld dikshunree' as it should be spelled) as their primary source. Which explains why they're wrong.

  14. dajames Silver badge

    The Internet is an internet

    ... that happens to be named "The Internet". That's it's name, and one capitalizes proper nouns.

    There's no reason why the word "internet" can't have distinct meanings in its capitalized and uncapitalized forms ... this isn't a Windows filesystem, is it?

    1. Tomato42 Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: The Internet is an internet

      those are press junkies, they use Macs and those have case insensitive FSs too

  15. myarse

    The Sky and Space

    Is not capped for a reason and don't get me started about the national grid.

  16. JeffyPoooh
    Pint

    "There is, after all, only one 'Internet'..."

    They used to say the same thing about the universe.

    Or is it supposed to be 'Universe'?

  17. Jeffrey Nonken

    The truth is not true

    "The truth is that each time in this story we have written the word Internet, it has caused you as the reader to note it. Whereas when we simply refer to the internet, it is picked up in the flow of the sentence."

    Nope. Of course I can only speak for myself, but because of the way my brain works, one you made me conscious of the difference, I paused and checked EVERY instance of the word while reading this article. I did notice you shifting back and forth, don't think for a second I didn't.

    And I expect I'm not your only reader on the autism spectrum, no matter how lightly touched.

    So, nyah. :)

  18. Lars Silver badge
    Unhappy

    the extra step

    Yes, that come to my programmer's -mind too just by reading the title. I also prefer cp to COPY or to be a bit fair the guys behind Unix were without doubt programmers and not something totally different. Then there is all those colour/color words, lots and lots of them and I must admit that sometimes my one or the other finger feel a bit unhappy with that "u" extra step. But, perhaps out of courtesy to an English site I win.

    Colour me surprised, however when I did a search on the (en) Wikipedia for "colour" and it responds with "color".

    As somebody pointed out languages change, always have. Until they die like Latin and many other.

    Then there are new words popping up all the time. One of the most fascinating new words is "trumpish". What a versatile word, a trumpish person, a trumpish behaviour, a trumpish colour.

    What makes the guy so fascinating is that I know him so well. I have three kids. And while he might be able to hide his tax returns he is unable to hide the fact that he never grew up. Not exactly the first rich man's son with that fate.

    Have a look at this on YouTube:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g_7bJSTDjT4

    This is more or less the first time he is under pressure. Listen to his voice, look a his body language.

    In the election there is of course that giggling lady who will not shut up no matter what was agreed upon regarding the debate rules.

    But women do have strengths to compensate other weaknesses. The mouth is one of the strongest and sharpest weapons they often have. I have no problems with that, I have accepted my fate. And if there is some invoice or similar to complain about, then just leave it to your wife, it work's wonders. But when a man behaves like that then it's something different.

    So for excuse me, excuse me, EXCUSE ME, No thanks, no thanks.

    As for all the lying, I become quite good at it as a child, often for good reasons not that it helped that often.

    In case there is somebody in the USA who feel we foreigners should not take part in all of this, I can understand it, but we are after all, all involved. We all love kids but just that long before we expect adult behaviour. And that kid I know, he will never grow up.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is going to be even more fun *grabs a second round of popcorn*

  20. Baldy50

    Meanwhile in Wigan

    It's called gowin on't Tinternet here and I suspect with a capital T as they seem to emphasise the first letter, they may spell it that way too I'd have to check with some of my pie eater friends. Spelled is spelt here too.BTW

    Ian.

  21. Tomato42 Silver badge
    Boffin

    Internet? Generalized?! What the hell are they drinking?

    Friday is as generic as it gets, yet we still write it with a capital F.

    More arbitrary "rules" from AP.

    1. tfewster Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Coming up next

      AP declares pi=3

  22. Florida1920
    Coat

    SOT

    Henceforth I shall call the Internet internet "SOT," out of respect for that great statesman and techno-explainer (note obligatory hyphen), the late Ted Stephens, former senator from Alaska. SOT, of course, stands for "System Of Tubes," which is easier to understand than I internet, which sounds like something you'd use to catch fish on a small pond.

    The one with the Redneck Dictionary in the pocket.

  23. a pressbutton Silver badge
    Coat

    Never mind capitalisation, in the future there will only be one word

    and that will be Big Brother

    or is that big brother

    hang on, that is two words

  24. Unep Eurobats
    Boffin

    Lower case

    Always.

    (Hint: getting it wrong won't be the worst grammatical mistake most of you are making.)

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The whole versus the parts

    Earth, the planet, versus earth, a handful of dirt.

    Internet, the globe-spanning network, versus internet, someone's complicated home network.

  26. jake Silver badge

    Doesn't really matter.

    "The Internet" is the world-wide TCP/IP connected network.

    "An [internet|intranet]" is a purely local (corporate, possibly world-wide) system. The protocol involved isn't germane to this conversation ...

    Anyone who thinks otherwise hasn't been involved in networking for very long.

  27. Charles Wolfe

    "internet" can't be lower cased

    AP has not done their research. Unless the owner has abandoned it, "internet" (lowercase i) is a registered trademark. AP, and a host of others, are infringing on the trademark. That is a major reason for calling the network of networks Internet (upper case I). While "internet" is being used like aspirin, in essence, making an everyday word out of a brand name, the practice should be discouraged. Upper case I is the legal and proper way to spell the word.

  28. Terry Cloth
    Headmaster

    It's not grammar, dammit!

    It's orthography. Look it up.

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