The 5 Stages of Internet Friendship

  1. You quietly follow their blog and/or Twitter feed (also known as lurking).
  2. You comment on their blog or respond to their tweets.
  3. You exchange e-mail with them.
  4. You friend them on Facebook.
  5. You add them to your instant messaging buddy list.

Things were a little different back in 1990, when I was new to the net:

  1. You read their posts on USENET.
  2. You send them e-mail about their posts.
  3. You publicly respond to their posts.
  4. You chat with them using talk, BITnet Relay, or perhaps IRC.
  5. You talk with them on the phone or meet them in person.

Thank goodness today we have enough social networking technology to avoid that last step! Hooray for progress, eh?

Chilly Weekend at the Magic Kingdom

We’re back from our annual Christmas trip to Disneyland, with various friends. We had nice weather for the first two days (Saturday night and Sunday), albeit a bit chilly, and then Monday the rains moved in and we spent the day bundled up under ponchos. The rain tapered off around 3 pm, and we managed to hit all our favorite rides at least twice over the trip, so it all worked out. We also had two nice meals, at the Blue Bayou restaurant in Disneyland, and at Steakhouse 55 at the Disneyland hotel, both a cut (or three) above the typical park fare.

They haven’t yet started the major renovations on the California Adventure park, which will change it from a general California theme park to one emphasizing early 20th century Los Angeles, when Walt Disney first moved to the state. (They’ll be tearing down the Golden Gate Bridge, for instance.) That will be a sad time.

The trip home was delayed a bit by the bad weather closing the Grapevine, the stretch of I-5 north of LA, for 17 hours overnight. We got to the foothills at the tail end of the shutdown and got stuck for 45 minutes, but that’s not bad, considering. We arrived home to unseasonably cold weather (apparently it didn’t break 50 today) and some kitties who were very happy to see us.

Jefferson seems to be just fine, 10 days after his dental surgery. He was scheduled for his follow-up appointment tomorrow morning, but the vet left a message that his doctor got summoned to jury duty, so I’ll have to reschedule.

That hiccup aside, tomorrow it’s back to the grind: Morning coffee, getting caught up on work after two days away, and comic books in the evening. And getting into the swing of the holidays, with putting up the tree and outside lights this weekend. Not much to complain about, really.

Regarding “Against Camel Case”

Caleb Crain’s article “Against Camel Case” in the New York Times is part informative historical information, and part silly exhortation. And through it all he doesn’t address the most important issue, that being, shouldn’t it be spelled “CamelCase”?

Actually, what I think he misses is the more interesting issue, which is that while the advent of writing initially helped to “fix” language so that it evolved somewhat more slowly (well, English, anyway), the greater use of writing for a wider variety of communication has cause the written form of the language to evolve rapidly and in unpredictable ways: The ubiquity of acronyms (LOL, WTF, IMHO and their brethren), which evolved (sort of) into L33Tspeak and text message lingo (which seems closely related in spirit, if not in derivation), which has started creeping out of the Internet and into student papers and such.

Language evolves. These things happen. I’m as pedantic as the next guy (probably much more pedantic than the next guy) about using correct grammar and spelling (typos and my meandering run-on sentences notwithstanding), but arguing for uniformity seems hopeless at best, senseless at worst. Set against some of the linguistic developments of the Internet age, camel case seems relatively innocuous.

Crain’s historical notes on the subtraction and later restoration of spaces in Latin is fascinating (separation of words by spaces was dropped completely? Wow), but I think he’s missing the forest for the trees: It’s pretty drastic to drop what is the functional demarcation between units, but not nearly as much so to drop a demarcation within a unit. “Bank of America” doesn’t mean “this is the bank of the entire nation” (there are, after all, other banks), but rather “this is a bank whose unique name is ‘Bank of America'”. That’s probably not that BofA wants their name to mean, but in practice that’s what people use the name to mean. And I expect that BofA recognized this when they changed their name (if only temporarily) to “BankAmerica”. (They might also have wanted to avoid people accidentally abbreviating their name with a term that could be pronounced ‘boh-fah’, though I have always heard people pronounce it as ‘bee-of-ay’.) The whole term is a unit, and the spacing is almost irrelevant.

Camel case is currently used in terms intended to sound trendy or cool (or that’s how I interpret it, anyway). Obviously, YMMV as to whether it sounds that way, but the intent, I think, is to convey that little extra emphasis. (Whether or not camel case is appropriate for a given company or product is another matter.) But I hardly think the loss of a few spaces is worth much fuss. At best, it might be grounds for a slippery slope argument, and we all know how much those are worth. It seems more likely that camel case is just one of Crain’s pet peeves.

The evolution of language is a fascinating thing, and it’s going to happen whether we want it to or not, and probably in ways we can’t anticipate. It’s just one more way the information era is changing and challenging the nature of our lives and our world.