The iPhone Is an Affront to Language

I dislike capital letters. I dislike exceptional capital letters even more. The iPhone, and indeed most Apple products, suffer from "camel case," as the NYT's On Language calls it. "Steep is the descent into orthographic antinomianism." He's right.

There's a historical reason in tech for products with camel case, like QuickTime or WordPerfect, as Crain, channeling New Scientist lays out: Often, spaces had to be dropped in programming languages, so capital letters were used in compound words to make them easier to read. That's fine, but in today's world, I agree very much with this sentiment:

In my considered opinion, the juxtaposition of majuscule and minuscule in a personal name may be safely indulged as a prerogative of the human being, with all his individual strangeness, but to extend the same license to the fruits, literal and figurative, of human labor is another matter.

Now, we have brands and products like TiVo, NVIDIA*, iEverythingapplemakes, BlackBerry, eXpo, eBook, eMachines, iRiver (it's iriver, oops), PlayStation and way, way more that insist on being special through forcing you to stretch your pinky finger over to the shift key at odd intervals, following their rhythm, dancing to their tune. It's a form of control.

Historically, Crain says, word spacing didn't really become standard for the modern world until the 13th century, after disappearing for a millennium. So camel case, he says, "is regressive — in fact medieval. It harks back to an era when reading was effortful, public and loud - like a visit to a contemporary shopping mall." Yep, that's the point. [NYT]

*I hate all caps, too, unless it's an acronym.