Back in 2004, editor Tony Long told his readers at Wired News that “effective with this sentence, [our website] will no longer capitalize the “I” in internet.”
But that was then, and this is now, and still the Associated Press and the New York Times insist the the word should be first initial capped, as in “Internet.”
However, with both Wired and Gawker and now BuzzFeed calling for the lowercasing of “internet” except when it is the first word of a sentence, the chorus is growing loud and louder across the Web, and more and more American websites and news platforms are following in the footsteps of British newspapers and websites.
With the latest style guide published by BuzzFeed, it’s now official: “internet” is to be lowercase on their website.
When I asked Long, who now lives in San Francisco, why he went out on a limb way back in 2004 about lowercasing internet, he told me: “The simple answer was then — and is now, in 2014– because there was and is no earthly reason to capitalize the word.
”True believers, of course, are fond of capitalizing words,” Long says, “whether they be marketers or political junkies or, in this case, techies. If It’s Capitalized, It Must Be Important.”
”My decision on lowercasing internet back in 2004 when I was Wired News’ copy chief the decision wasn’t made lightly, and I believe that I was right, and even more right some ten years later,” he said.
When asked to explain his decision, Long said: “At the time, I felt strongly that a change in Wired News’ house style was necessary to put into perspective what the internet was then and is even more so now: just another medium for delivering and receiving information. That it transformed human communication is beyond dispute. But no more so than moveable type did in its day. Or the radio. Or television. And American newspaper editors once capitalized Radio and Television.”
Long says he felt then and feels even more so today that by lowercasing internet, Wired News was simply giving the medium its proper due.
Do the Brits know something about the internet that we don’t know? Or are American copyeditors just being stubborn. With Gawker and BuzzFeed behind the lowercase style, AP and the Times might soon get with the program, according to sources at both news outlets.
Many American and Canadian editors, of course, still have mixed feelings about this issue, but many are also now leaning towards — but not committed to–lowercasing internet. Will BuzzFeed’s decision change the tide?
Blogger Tom Blumer makes sense when he contemplates lowercasing the word: “Is it a place (the big web in the sky)? Not really. Is it a specific entity? Again not really.”
Me? I’m with Tony Long and the Brits on this: it’s time to go lowercase.
Could it be that the American media is holding out against lowercasing the Internet because they just don’t want to be seen as downgrading Al Gore’s invention, as Blumer quipped on his blog?
In the end, everyone knows know that things are trending down and the handwriting is on the wall on this issue. BuzzFeed has spoken.