Sunday, October 29, 2006

Irony and evolvery

On polyglot conspiracy, Lauren observes:

I think the shift to talking about internets rather than The Internet might actually be happening. A couple years after Bush called it the internets, we all laughed, and it became a kind of joke to pluralize: the internets, internets, interwebs. But then just this week [...]


I’d be interested in hearing whether people notice usage of internets in a not-tongue-in-cheek way, or if this still seems to call attention to itself as an ironic formulation.

What do we think?


polsy said...

Hmm, I hear 'the interweb' (or, not infrequently, 'teh intarweb') more often than 'the internets'. But (obviously, in the second case) never non-ironically. Yet.

Mark Heyne said...

isn't there a whole aspect of the Net which is not the World Wide Web? I mean all sites that come under the http address? So in that sense that is already more than one Inter-Net.

WordzGuy said...

satz, I think there is a single Internet that supports multiple protocols, of which http is just one. As I understand it, the capital-I Internet is the conglomeration of many (many, many) smaller networks, hence is a (singular) inter-network. Dunno.

However and in any event, it seems to me that the term "internets" is unlikely in most cases to be an attempt to capture this technical subtlety. I believe, as suggested in all this, that it began as a mistake, then an ironic commentary on those with less sophisticated technical chops (ie, essentially a ticket into an elite), and now seems to be kind of dropping its ironic overtones.

So in one sense, I guess, the term is coming around to represent something that might be technically true. Hmmm. :-)

bjkeefe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bjkeefe said...

I think "internets," as used in the ironic sense, got a boost from Ted Stevens's infamous "tubes" speech.

I have yet to come across the plural form in a serious sense. It strikes me that such usage would be as bad as "universes," although I suppose if a completely separate network were created, and the two didn't connect at all, I'd accept the pluralism.

But you know that such a second network would not long remain completely separate, and then people would talk about "interconnecting" them and "intercomparing" their merits.

And then I'd be really mad.