Today I’m going to tackle the most important and divisive issue the human race has ever faced: Should the word internet be capitalized?
Why was “internet” EVER capitalized?
Internet is a contraction of interconnected network. Historically, the bodies that set internet standards have treated the word as a proper noun. This was handy in differentiating the internet (the worldwide set of interconnected networks) from just any interconnected set of computer networks. The internet is unique, and therefore deserves the preferential treatment bestowed upon proper nouns. (Or so the argument goes.)
Does this mean “internet” must always be capitalized?
However, despite its history, I’d argue that the capitalization is no longer necessary: Though it’s true that the internet is a unique entity, that fact alone does not automatically entitle it to special treatment. We don’t capitalize “outer space” or the “sky”.
Also, consider its everyday usage. We don’t capitalize television, the radio, or print media. The internet is simply a newer medium; why should it be treated differently from the others?
Despite the historical reasons for capitalizing internet, I don’t think it’s necessary now. Language evolves. It’s time to stop this outdated practice.
I’d like to see internet treated as a common noun, only capitalized when at the beginning of a sentence. This is a shift that has already begun, and though I’m usually conservative about language issues, I think this particular shift is for the better.