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article imageInternet demotion to lowercase by AP Stylebook upsets internet

By Megan Hamilton     Apr 4, 2016 in Internet
As of June 1, 2016, it will be internet, not Internet. And web will no longer be Web. That's because both words will be lowercase instead of capitalized in the Associated Press Stylebook.
AP editors announced the change Saturday just before a conference of the American Copy Editors Society, Poynter notes.
"The changes reflect a growing trend toward lowercasing both words, which have become generic terms," said AP Standards Editor Thomas Kent, via email.
In the impermanent world of the internet, words — and their usage — evolve. In a 2015 column, Adam Nathaniel Peck, an associate editor at the New Republic suggested it was time for a change. He argued that most of us likely no longer consider "internet" a proper noun.
The main reason that internet gained its uppercase status "is that pesky little determiner that usually accompanies the word internet," Peck notes.
"We use 'the' when we talk about the internet, and that perpetuates the usage of the uppercase," said Katherine Connor Martin, the head of U.S. English Dictionaries at Oxford University Press.
As The Verge notes, we began treating internet as a proper noun early on in internet communications. And some argue that the internet we use today is merely one internet out of many possible internets.
It's a word that's already evolved from another nerdier sounding word: ARPANET, Mashable reports. It's become as everyday as brushing our teeth, as utilitarian any kitchen appliance, so it's fading into the lexicon of everyday use.
Which seems fitting.
But not everyone's on board with this change. When the AP tweeted about the change, some people weighed in.
Their comments?
Robot Taylor
"@APStylebook dead wrong. There is and can only be one Internet. Lesser interoperable networks are individually 'an internet.' Embarrassing."
Gardner von Holt
"@apstylebook The Internet is a proper noun. Without any reasoning attached, this looks like you were mostly just looking for some attention."
Rikki Endsley
"@APStylebook OVER THE LINE! You change that 'I' in the Internet to lowercase and you're entering a world of pain."
Eric Mickelsen
"Any other proper nouns you'd like to make lowercase for no reason at all? @POTUS? Earth? @APStylebook? Pointless and counterproductive."
For Ben Zimmer, a columnist for the Wall Street Journal and the executive editor of and Visual Thesaurus, the change isn't such a big deal — in part.
Lowercasing web seems appropriate because it's a word that's become more generic in our understanding, he said, per Poynter.
Internet, however, is another story. It's a term "that has encompassed a global network," he said. It has the feel of a proper noun.
While copy editors have to keep up-to-date with changes, other journalists sometimes "blow these rulings out of proportion," Zimmer said.
But some changes made by the AP Stylebook do seem inexplicable, TechCrunch notes. When the AP allowed for the use of "over" in place of "more than," it caused a stir among copy editors. And the same thing happened when it mandated that "underway" instead of "under way" be used at all times.
Perhaps the old cliche can be used here — with a twist:
"The more things change, the more they really change."
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