[ih] 'Internet' vs 'internet'
jnc at mercury.lcs.mit.edu
Sat Sep 29 07:12:30 PDT 2018
Dear Science News editors:
I was extremely saddened to see, in the latest issue of 'Science News', that
you all have apparently succumbed to the fashion of using 'internet' to refer
to the Internet. While I expect to see this sort of error in general
publications, it's most unfortunate to see a magazine focused on technical
matters make the same mistake.
Let me explain.
An 'internet' is a generally, and widely, accepted technical term for a
collection of disparate physical networks (fiber optic links, wireless
network, Ethernets, etc) connected together with a particular type of packet
switch, called 'routers'. (There are other kinds of packet switch, but they
have mostly fallen into desuetude now.)
The 'Internet' is the massive internet to which most people of the world now
have access. (See how that sentence doesn't make sense without distinguishing
one with the capital?)
There are, however, still many other internets, which are not connected to the
Internet. (Google "air gap" if you aren't aware of this - and again, the
different spelling is crucial to the sentenced being comprehensible.)
The people who invented internets, and the Internet, carefully chose to use
the capital precisely to distinguish between the two. (I recall the
discussion.) The Internet Engineering Task Force, the body responsible for the
technical specifications for internets and the Internet, continues to use that
Just as there are many 'white houses', but only one 'White House', there is an
important distinction between 'internet(s)' and the 'Internet'.
So I hope you will update your editorial guidlines to note that the term for
_the_ Internet is spelled with a capital.
More information about the Internet-history