Monday, February 19, 2018

For What It's Worth: It's Internet, and not the other thing

I appreciate a good grammar argument, and always have.

I also appreciate words enough to know that their meaning shifts, and is contextual.  So not only is it a waste of energy and breath to go around pointing out error in the way that most people use the words "peruse" and "notorious,", it's actually wrong to do so.  As in, the pointing out of the wrongness itself is not entirely correct.

If someone talks about his high "self of steam" or wants to boil an argument down "for all intensive purposes" then as long as the meaning can be accurately inferred among the audience, there really isn't a problem.  Far be it from me to stop the show.

And in that spirit, I'm willing to let go of "Internet."  Most style guides have already gone against me, Wired has gone against me, and shoot, as of some point last year, the Tech Review has gone against me, too.

But hear me out -- there are many parks, but there is one Fenway Park.  There are many canals, but there is one Rideau Canal.  And so on.

There are many interconnected networks.  There are many internets.  But there is ONE worldwide network that meets all of the specifications described in the snapshot above, which came from a textbook I'm using this semester.  This network -- the Internet -- conforms to a very specific set of rules that lend themselves to worldwide interoperability.  These protocols, like Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol, are part of a suite of protocols built into our operating systems and our hardware that enable the PFM* that occurs when you bring your brand-new computer out of the box, turn it on, and it can suddenly find a router, join a network, and connect you to, well, the Internet.

Almost inevitably, when I've heard die-hard fans of 'internet' make their case, they compare it to other services like 'laundry' or 'cable television.'   "Are you implying that hotels should offer Laundry and Cable Television?," they ask, with barely concealed derision. 

I will bet you all the money in my checking account that the person asking the question above can't appreciate -- let alone explain -- the paragraph that came before it.  Nor does he care to. 

All THAT said?  Before I let this issue become my own personal "Old Man Screams at Cloud" storyline, I'll surrender quietly into the night here.  I obviously care (remember, any time a person tells you that they "don't care" about something that you didn't ask about in the first place, they certainly do care -- and that 'level of care' is directly proportional to their insistence otherwise).

But for all intensive purposes, there are other things to do, this ain't it, and the ship has already sailed.

*Pure Flippin' Magic