Something just clicked
with me this morning, somewhere between the shower
. It was in that dreamy
state when one is no longer asleep, but cannot legitimately be described as being awake.
There is a trend on the Internet away from the anarchy that was present in its early days, where throwing something on a web server was good enough. The important part of this trend, “content is king” has been going on for some time. Sites that actually tell you something are valued over flashy logos.
But a more subtle trend has emerged, too. Basically, it is a return to “traditional” spelling and grammar. No longer are typo-filled posts considered widely acceptable. Well, that may be going too far—the odd error is probably tolerated in some circles, but posts where you have to think about it to decipher simple words, or using so many instant messaging abbreviations as to look like line noise are likely to raise someone’s ire. A conversational tone is acceptable, but it should at least look like you are making an effort.
I suppose I first encountered it here on E2. I discovered that running the spellchecker was not just appreciated but the bare minimum to be done. So, I read and re-read my nodes prior to posting. When errors do slip through (and, as sure as I type this, one or two will slip through this very node), it is pointed out. These folks are certainly trying to help (they certainly don’t qualify as flames), and I have appreciated the pointers. Ultimately, I assumed it was due to E2’s mission—a desire to node for the ages.
But I’ve seen it in other places. The FAQ for the “Television Without Pity” website goes to great lengths to explain a desire to have their forums have correct spelling and grammar. They aren’t strict—so long as things are generally understandable. However, "l33t sp34k" is not viewed as warmly. It’s not a free-for-all.
Then, there is Strong Bad. In his e-mail responses, he has often mocked people’s grammar and spelling (and names, general disposition, and anything else he could think of). I assumed it was part of his act. Recently, in an e-mail called “Local News,” he put together a whole CD of tips, “Strong Bad’s Rhythm N’ Grammar.” The one that sticks out in my mind goes a little like this:
and I don’t care how they spell things on the Internet
But when you e-mail me, you spell the whole word out
And I don’t care that your cell phone
Has a camera in it
I know that three anecdotes don’t qualify as a trend. However, I think, overall, I like the general direction. I don’t think the Internet will change the language that much (certainly not to the point of damaging it).
If nothing else, it makes me look like I actually earned my degree.