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Internet != internet

Wired has announced that they are ditching the capital 'I' in Internet [via Dave] as well as the capital W in Web and the capital N in Net. While I don't have an opinion about the Web and Net cases, I think that the case for Internet is different.

An internet (lowercase 'i') was initially defined to be a connected set of (potentially different) networks, with the Internet (uppercase 'i') being the internet of all internets. So Internet is a particular name for a particular abstraction. True, this might be a definition that is of historical interest more than anything, or specifically pointing at the Internet construct, where Wired is looking at the Internet as a medium. A medium implies certain homogeneity, which, while true in practice in most of the Internet today, is not what the initial use of the term "internet" implied, is not true for research edge networks (and some commercial networks) connected to it, and was not true at the beginning when a protocol had not yet won over others as a standard.

In any case, I assume that in technical terms we will continue to make the distinction, since, strictly speaking, an internet is a subset of the Internet. :)

PS: Check out the various references in the History page at the Internet Society for more detail on the early terminology and naming.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 17 2004 at 4:13 PM

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