Question of the Week-2

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This topic contains 15 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  David Tallan 12 years, 6 months ago.

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  • #63525

    Dr D.C.Misra

    Question of the Week-2: What is the difference, if any, between Internet (with capital I) and internet (with lower case i)?

    Alice Fisher will be the judge to decide the best reply, subject to her consent.
    Discussion will close next Friday, December 19.
    Have a nice weekend.

  • #63555

    David Tallan

    The Internet is the network of networks, connected and running the TCP/IP protocol. That’s how I usually use the term. looking at my dog-eared copy of The Whole Internet User’s Guide and Catalog by Ed Krol (O’Reilly, 1992), I see his definition may be a bit broader. He says:
    ‘Five years ago [1987] the answer would have been easy: “All the networks, using the IP protocol, that cooperate to form a seamless network for their collective users.” … More recently, some non-IP-based networks saw that the Internet was good. … [T]hey developed methods of connecting these “strange” networks (e.g. Bitnet, DECnets, etc.) to the Internet. … Are they part of the Internet? Maybe yes and maybe no.’ (p.13)
    So the definition could be braoder and include networks running TCP/IP connected to each other and the other networks connected to them, seamlessly from the user perspective.

    An internet, is a network running the the TCP/IP protocol. It may or may not be connected to the Internet (and a part of).

  • #63553

    Dr D.C.Misra

    True, David. An excellent exposition. But what then is internet (with lower case i)? Are Internet and internet two different things or one and the same thing?

  • #63551

    Alice M. Fisher

    Thank you Dr. Misra,

    I am honored, this is SO much fun. Will this include the differences
    relative to the Web 1.0 world and the Web 2.0 World?

    I look forward to a rousing and engaging discussion regarding the various
    interpretations within the context of:

    1) the semantics of language,
    2) vs. the technology,
    3) vs. it’s applications of use.

    Alice M. Fisher

  • #63549

    Dr D.C.Misra

    Thanks a lot, Alice. I knew you will not disappoint me.With your consent this becomes your discussion and you are free to steer the way you like. Since there is plenty of talent in this group, I am sure others will respond to the question. Who said public servants are a dull lot? Not, me.

    Dr D.C.Misra

  • #63547

    David Tallan

    I thought I answered that in the second paragraph. With the upper case I, it is a specific network, which is actually formed of many smaller ones. With the lower case i it is a type of network, as defined by the protocols it uses (specifically Transmission Control Protocol and Internet Protocol (TCP/IP).

  • #63545

    Dr D.C.Misra

    I now get it, David. Thanks.

    Dr D.C.Misra

  • #63543

    Dr D.C.Misra

    It is now Alice’s thread.

    Dr D.C.Misra

  • #63541

    Alice M. Fisher

    This is indeed interesting. It there more to this than meets the “eye”?
    No Pun intended? LOL
    Big I vs. Little i?
    And what resounding implications does a Big I vs a i have for the global Internet?

    Alice Fisher

  • #63539

    Alice M. Fisher

    From a descriptive language standpoint is the Internet a Proper Noun?
    or is it a regular everday common noun?
    Our U.S language semantics indicate, historically, that it is a proper noun.

    Is it still a Proper Noun?
    Why is the I in Internet important ( or not) in further defining the evolving Internet?

    The Internet began in North America and was normalized and standardized here in the U.S?
    Let’s dig deeper on examing the evolution of the Why of I vs. i?

    Being a communications person by trade, I know that newspapers, newswires, periodicals, and technical journals also capitalize the term. I know my AP Journalism Style Guide uses a capitol I.

    Examples include, The New York Times, the Associated Press, Time, The Times of India, Hindustan Times and Communications of the ACM.

    The American Psychological Association, in its electronic media spelling guide, capitalizes “Internet.”

    Other Sources Use Capitol I for Internet also include

    APA Style Electronic media spelling guide
    The Chicago Manual of Style,
    The Internet Society,
    The Internet Engineering Task Force,
    The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers,
    The World Wide Web Consortium,
    The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
    American Psychological Association (APA)
    Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved December 12, 2008, from website:

    Chicago Manual Style (CMS),
    Modern Language Association (MLA).
    Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)., “Internet,”
    Online Etymology Dictionary. Source location: Douglas Harper, Historian,

    Any other thoughts regarding the why of using i vs. I? ????

    Alice Fisher

  • #63537

    Dr D.C.Misra

    This is fantastic. I mean the post.
    May be this will be of interest:

    Thompson, J., et al. (2007). A Study into the Spelling of Technology Terms, Academic Proceedings, New York State Association for Computers and Technology in Education (NYSCATE) Annual Conference, Rochester, NY,

  • #63535

    David Tallan

    Clearly from my answer above, I believe the Internet is a proper noun, the name for a specific collection of networks. That’s also why the definite article is used. With a small i, and internet is a common noun, a type of network.

    This is also why we generally do not see “intranet” capitalized. It, too, is a common noun, a type of network (one limited to within the organization). Even when people use the definite article (e.g. “You can find it on the intranet”). It is clear from context which intranet is meant. But there are many intranets and everyone knows that their organization’s intranet is not the “one and only”.

    Not so with the Internet. While there are many networks that run TCP/IP, there is only one Internet.

  • #63533

    David Tallan

    I can now provide more citations. From the Wikipedia article (

    “In the Internet standards community, which includes the IETF, usage historically differentiated between the common noun, with a lower case first letter, and the proper noun, with an upper case first letter. That is, “the Internet” (capital I) referred to the Internet, while “an internet” (lowercase i) referred to any internetwork for connecting multiple networks together — including the use of Internet technologies for this purpose inside private networks. The distinction is evident in a large number of the Request for Comments documents from the early 1980s, when the transition from the ARPANET to the Internet was in progress.

    “Another example is IBM’s TCP/IP Tutorial and Technical Overview (ISBN 0-7384-2165-0) from 1989, which stated that:
    The words internetwork and internet is [sic] simply a contraction of the phrase interconnected network. However, when written with a capital “I”, the Internet refers to the worldwide set of interconnected networks. Hence, the Internet is an internet, but the reverse does not apply. The Internet is sometimes called the connected Internet.

    “The Internet-internet distinction fell out of common use after the Internet Protocol Suite was widely deployed in commercial networks in the 1990s.[citation needed]”

    Clearly, I’m showing my age.

  • #63531

    Alice M. Fisher

    Thanks so much for your reolies.
    Do you think that there is a movement to down grade it from a US Title to
    a more generalized.

    And, is there the possibility that may there may be another agenda which we have not yet considered?

    Thanks, Alice Fisher

  • #63529

    Alice M. Fisher

    This Question/Discussion is now closed. Sorry for the delay, the holidays are upon us/me.
    And, I lead with that opening line, I hope you all have a safe and wonderful Holiday Season.

    Now, for a very long winded attempt at an answer. Well, it seems from my limited perspective here on my side of my humble fence that David gave the best overall answer and definition generally speaking. It also appears to me that the Internet as we have known ii is begining to continue to evolve with a growing “agenda”, which is revealed at the end of this mini dissertation….bear with me please until the end with item number 6 below.

    Upper case (“I”nternet) The Internet is largest network in the world. It is made up of more than 350 million computers in more than 100 countries covering commercial, academic and government endeavors. Today, the “Net” has become commercialized into a worldwide information highway, providing data and commentary and products on every subject and product on earth. The term originated as a determiner, a shorthand for internetworking, and is mostly used in this way in RFCs, the documentation for the evolving Internet Protocol (IP) standards for internetworking between ARPANET and other computer networks in the 1970s. As the impetus behind IP grew, it became more common to regard the results of internetworking as entities of their own, and internet became a noun, used both in a generic sense (any collection of computer networks connected through internetworking) and in a specific sense (the collection of computer networks that internetworked with ARPANET, and later NSFNET, using the IP standards, and that grew into the connectivity service we know today). In its generic sense, internet is a common noun, a synonym for internetwork; therefore, it has a plural form (first appearing in RFC 870 and RFC 872), and is not to be capitalized.

    In its specific sense, it is a proper noun, and therefore, with article, without a plural form, and with capitalization.

    As Internet connectivity grew more popular, it became known as a service, similar to TV, radio, and telephone, and the word came to be used in this way (e.g. “I have Internet at home” and “I saw it on (the) Internet”). For this type of use, English spelling and grammar do not prescribe whether the article or capitalization are to be used, which explains the inconsistency that exists in practice.

    Many newspapers, newswires, periodicals, and technical journals capitalize the term (Internet). Examples include The Dhaka Daily Star, The New York Times, the Associated Press, Time, The Times of India, Hindustan Times, and Communications of the ACM.

    Other publications do not capitalize the term, including The Economist, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the Financial Times, The Guardian, The Times, The Sydney Morning Herald, and Wired News; this appears to be more popular outside North America.

    Here is some examples from an historical perspective on the “shift” from I vs i.

    1) Since 2000, a significant number of publications have switched to using internet. Among them are The Economist, the Financial Times, The Times (of London), and the Sydney Morning Herald.

    2) 2002 we see some readings about its discussion such as this location
    A professor is working on changing the common practice so that internet is spelled with a lower case “i”. I think it looks silly with the capitalized I. He thinks that it suggests that the “Internet” is a brand owned by a company. A lower case internet suggests it’s just a thing owned by everyone in the world. is it world or the World?

    3) Here is another perspective from 2003, which I personally liked, but again it is more about grammar and not the why behind to move/shift

    3) As of 2005, most publications using “internet” appear to be located outside of North America although one American news source, Wired News, has adopted the lowercase spelling. Here is what Wired News Editor’s explanation for the decision:

    4) Other thinking seen in 2006, decentralization of the Internet?

    5) Some grammatical thoughts of “its” commonessness resurface from a copywriting stand point and prevail into 2007.

    6) fast foward, there may be a movement to make Internet a lowercased internet because….?
    What is the point? the purpose? Is it commercialization? Decentralization?
    Or is it to make the Internet more like global electric service/gas services, which all can be regulated, with additional tarrifs, fees and taxes?
    a new world order, so to speak? Notice I have purposely added no capitalizations there. Let’s read on, a bit further.

    Shannon (2006) in International Herald Tribune reports that with “internet” (with lower case “i”) International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a United Nations agency, wants to lower-case the word Internet as a matter of official policy so that it could take over the governance of Internet. She reported then in 2006, that some of the 2,100 participants at the union’s highest-level strategy meeting, which convened for three weeks in November 2006 in Antalya, Turkey, “saw the move as the latest in a long-running effort by the organization to control the Internet, this time through a subtle yet symbolic imprint on the most powerful communications and commercial tool of the 21st century.” (ibid.). Yoshio Utsumi, who turns over his office as secretary general of the agency to Touré in January, had called the Internet a “utility” to be managed for the public good (ibid.).

    Here is the website link to ITU mission and vision.
    ITU is the leading United Nations agency for information and communication technologies. As the global focal point for governments and the private sector, ITU’s role in connecting the world spans 3 core sectors: radiocommunication, standardization and development. As well as the TELECOM events, ITU was the lead organizing agency of the World Summit on the Information Society. ITU Membership includes:

    191 Member States
    some 650 telcom/Internet Sector Members

    Please scroll down and see just how many USA companies are participating in this subtle movement under the heading of
    Etats-Unis – United States – Estados Unidos. If you belong to the United Nations, you can belong to ITU.…

    Backgrounder from a ITU 1995 press release:
    The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) was founded in 1865, and as such is the oldest inter-governmental organization. In 1947, it became a specialized agency of the United Nations and has a membership of 184 countries, as well as a number of industry and government organizations. It is the international organization responsible for the regulation and planning of telecommunications worldwide, for the establishment of equipment and systems operating standards, for the coordination and dissemination of information required for the planning and operation of telecommunications services and for the promotion of and contribution to the development of telecommunications and the related infrastructures within the United Nations system.

    in 2001, regulatory discussions started and noted in a 2001 press release

    “There was also a call for more case studies from stakeholders in the regulatory process, including private sector vendors, operators and investment banks, on their experiences with regulation. Overwhelmingly, regulators called for regional sub-groupings and regional aggregation of expertise to enhance the credibility and effectiveness of individual regulators’ decisions”

    The most recent past Bio of the most recent past ITU official

    Please read this source: An Internet/Telcom/Mobile Media speech from 1999 from Utsumi

    I quote in part;
    “But this picture is changing. Revenue generated from domestic and international fixed-line services reached a peak shortly after TELECOM 95, and have subsequently been in decline. By the time of TELECOM 2003, they will contribute less than half of the total. Indeed, were it not for the continuing growth of the Internet and especially of mobile cellular, the industry as a whole would be shrinking rather than growing in value.”

    Any additional thoughts on the global shift?
    If so, maybe a new question of the week could stem from this?

    Thanks so much for everyones input on this question.
    I now pass the Internet Torch back to Dr. D.C Misra.

    Alice Fisher

  • #63527

    Lindsey Borschel

    I always capitalize when referring to “the Internet” because it is a proper noun. Of course since 2004, in everyday dialog, I now refer to it as “the internets.” Because I only say this and typically do not type it, I never capitalize it (even in my head). And when typing it just now, I couldn’t bring myself to capitalize it, although I wonder if the irony would somehow be heightened if i did.

    I don’t think I ever use “internet” in any context when not referring to “the Internet,” but rather, use the term “network.”

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