NYTimes.com Article: Who Owns the Internet? You and i Do
Sun, 5 Jan 2003 22:39:37 -0800
<speak voice='roz from monsters inc'>Hah hah. Old bits.</speak>
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Subject: NYTimes.com Article: Who Owns the Internet? You and i Do
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> I have to admit, this was a persuasive article. I think I'm going to try
it out -- much as the book editor compromised, use Internet for historical
references and internet for current ones.
> The capitalization bit is definitely a signal... Kahn aside.
> Who Owns the Internet? You and i Do
> December 29, 2002
> By JOHN SCHWARTZ
> SOMETHING will be missing when Joseph Turow's book about
> families and the Internet is published by M.I.T. Press next
> spring: The capital I that usually begins the word
> Mr. Turow, a professor at the Annenberg School for
> Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, studies
> how people use online technology and how that affects their
> lives. He has begun a small crusade to de-capitalize
> Internet - and, by extension, to acknowledge a deep shift
> in the way that we think about the online world.
> "I think what it means is it's part of the everyday
> universe," he said.
> Capitalization irked him because, he said, it seemed to
> imply that reaching into the vast, interconnected ether was
> a brand-name experience.
> "The capitalization of things seems to place an inordinate,
> almost private emphasis on something," he said, turning it
> into a Kleenex or a Frigidaire. "The Internet, at least
> philosophically, should not be owned by anyone," he said,
> calling it "part of the neural universe of life."
> But, he said, dropping the big I would sent a deeper
> message to the world: The revolution is over, and the Net
> won. It's part of everyone's life, and as common as air and
> water (neither of which starts with a capital).
> Some elements of the online world have already made the
> transition. Internet often appears with a lowercase I on
> the Internet itself - but then, spelling online is
> dreadful, u kno.
> Although most everybody still capitalizes World Wide Web,
> words like "website," and the online journals known as
> weblogs (or, simply, blogs) are increasingly lowercase. Of
> course, the Internet's capital I is virtually engraved in
> stone, since Microsoft Word automatically capitalizes the
> lowercase "i" unless a user overrides its settings.
> For Mr. Turow, the first step in his campaign was
> persuading his book editor to enlist. She compromised,
> dropping to lowercase in newly written parts and retaining
> the capital in older articles reproduced in the book.
> Then he nudged Steven Jones, a communications professor at
> the University of Illinois at Chicago and president of the
> Association of Internet Researchers. Mr. Jones was cool to
> the idea, until he looked at copies of Scientific American
> from the late 19th century, and noticed that words for new
> technologies, like Phonograph, were often uppercased.
> Today, Mr. Jones is a crusader himself.
> "I think the
> moment is right," he said, to treat the Internet "the way
> we refer to television, radio and the telephone."
> He shared his view with a few hundred close friends last
> month at a meeting of the National Communication
> Association, an educators' group. "I just noticed
> everybody's attention kind of snapped forward," he said.
> "I'm used to having people say nice things," he said.
> "We're scholars, not wrestlers. But this time I was struck
> by the number of people who were saying the equivalent of,
> `Right on!' "
> DICTIONARY editors, though, have dismissed Mr. Turow
> politely but firmly.
> Dictionaries do not generally see themselves as making the
> rules, said Jesse Sheidlower, who runs the American offices
> of the Oxford English Dictionary.
> "What dictionaries do is reflect what's out there," he
> said. He and his fellow dictionary editors would think
> seriously about such changes after newspapers make them, he
> That could take a while. Allan M. Siegal, a co-author of
> The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage and an
> assistant managing editor at the newspaper, said that
> "there is some virtue in the theory" that Internet is
> becoming a generic term, "and it would not be surprising to
> see the lowercase usage eclipse the uppercase within a few
> He said, however, that the newspaper was unlikely to make
> any change that was not supported by authoritative
> Time to ask Robert Kahn, who is as responsible as anyone
> for the creation of the Internet, having helped plan the
> original network that preceded it and having created, with
> Vinton Cerf, the language of computer networks, known as
> TCP/IP, that allowed the vast knitting-together of systems
> that gave birth to the modern medium.
> He cares deeply about the name, having led a fight for
> years to ensure that its use is not restricted or abused by
> the corporation that received the trademark in 1989.
> A settlement was reached two years ago with the company now
> known as Concord EFS. The company agreed that it would not
> dun people who used the word, which meant that "Internet"
> now belongs to everybody, Mr. Kahn said.
> "We defended the right of people to use the word `Internet'
> for what we think of as the Internet," he said.
> THAT was the important fight, according to Mr. Kahn.
> "Whether you use a cap I or little I" hardly matters, he
> Which leads us back to a profound question for Mr. Turow:
> Don't you have anything better to do?
> "That's a really interesting question," he said. "I was an
> English major. I'm very sensitive to the nuances of words,
> and I'm very concerned about the nuances, the feel that
> words have within the society."
> Fair enough; Perhaps the next big thing, after all, will be
> small. At least initially.
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