Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

A common trend in business writing recently has been to drop the determiner (so, for example, writing 'Business case is solid' instead of 'The business case is solid.') I think the belief is that it appears more efficient, but I just read it as more illiterate. The title of this article indicates the need for a determiner; I read it as meaning "There has been little tribute to Tim..." when the author meant "A little tribute..." or even better "My little tribute..."). I know it seems picky, but it's a really common error, and indicates sloppiness of thought.

Along those lines, Donald Clark writes, "Without the World Wide Web there would be no search, web content such as Wikipedia, open educational resources, online learning, online games, online book stores or social media." I would never belittle the huge contribution made by Tim Berners-Lee, but it's just not true. In fact, on the internet, 25 years ago we already had many of these things, in the firm of FTP, email archives, Archie, Gopher, adventure games and MUDs, UseNet, IRCfidonet and shareware, and more. The internet was a wonderful and beautiful place even before the web came along, and while Berners-Lee certainly enhanced it, he didn't create it. We did. All of us.

That's also why you don't capitalize 'internet' or 'web'. We say the internet, the web - it's a description, not a name.

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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Last Updated: Mar 30, 2021 7:04 p.m.