When I signed up to write a blog post on the decision this year by the New York Times and the Associated Press to stop capitalizing the term internet, I thought it would be a good way to come to terms with the decision by The JAMA Network to follow this style. My first thought had been, “Internet’s gotta be capitalized!” I’ve been capitalizing this word for a long time—since Google was invented and people could “surf” on it. I felt that it wasn’t right to use lowercase.
When the word is not initial capped, the wonder that is the internet seems somehow diminished. Reading about pros and cons, I discovered that feelings can run high on this subject, and people have very definite ideas about Internet vs internet. On the Grammarist’s website, people point out that there can be many internets—interconnected computers—but there is only 1 Internet, a kind of internet that would be hard to live without.
Alas, the internet is no longer a magical place—it’s something mundane, like radio or television or cable. But I am old enough to remember when it did feel magical. There weren’t many things to look up or opportunities to surf, but you just knew those days were coming.
On the one hand, as several Grammarist commenters pointed out, originally Internet referred to the internet delivered by the Internet Engineering Task Force and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers—it was a very specific institution. Its precursor was the ARPANET, which dates back to the 1960s. One the other hand, according to Wikipedia, “the designers of early computer networks used internet both as a noun and as a verb in shorthand form of internetwork or internetworking, meaning interconnecting computer networks.”
I see both sides of the argument. Although old habits die hard, ultimately, one has to has to go with the flow, especially in the workplace. The internet, if nothing else, is all about change and updates.—Karen Boyd