Slash versus backslash: does precision matter?

This is a slash: /
This is a backslash: \
So it bugs me when people say as “xyz dot com backslash whatever.”

I know where it comes from: Windows directories really are separated by backslashes. It’s hard to adjust from that to the web, invented by Unix users.

So why do I care? I care because I like precision. I’m a programmer, so a misplaced semicolon or quotation mark often causes all kinds of errors. I learned grammar, so “it’s” instead of “its” rubs me the wrong way. Punctuation matters.

I read most of my text on blogs, where it may or may not have been proofread. I use Twitter, where people abbreviate and leave out words to fit into 140 characters. I’m seeing more and more typos in books and newspapers, as publishers don’t have time or copyediting staff to catch them. And here the Internet was supposed to usher in a golden age of text.

I wonder sometimes how long it will be before I stop caring. I think it’ll be a while. I’m still most impressed by people who can express themselves fluently in standard written English.

Note: Actually, that isn’t quite true – I can only evaluate the grammar in English, but I’m impressed by the ideas in the blogs I read in French as well. I was pleased to find I could decipher most of a post in Portuguese the other day, too…. Global Internet, here I come.

About Jennifer Berk

I'm an analytics and data leader with a marketing and product mindset. I like online newspapers, science fiction and fantasy, and ugly fish.
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