Summary from Goodreads:
A linguistically informed look at how our digital world is transforming the English language.
Language is humanity’s most spectacular open-source project, and the internet is making our language change faster and in more interesting ways than ever before. Internet conversations are structured by the shape of our apps and platforms, from the grammar of status updates to the protocols of comments and @replies. Linguistically inventive online communities spread new slang and jargon with dizzying speed. What’s more, social media is a vast laboratory of unedited, unfiltered words where we can watch language evolve in real time.
Even the most absurd-looking slang has genuine patterns behind it. Internet linguist Gretchen McCulloch explores the deep forces that shape human language and influence the way we communicate with one another. She explains how your first social internet experience influences whether you prefer “LOL” or “lol,” why ~sparkly tildes~ succeeded where centuries of proposals for irony punctuation had failed, what emoji have in common with physical gestures, and how the artfully disarrayed language of animal memes like lolcats and doggo made them more likely to spread.
Because Internet is essential reading for anyone who’s ever puzzled over how to punctuate a text message or wondered where memes come from. It’s the perfect book for understanding how the internet is changing the English language, why that’s a good thing, and what our online interactions reveal about who we are.
I saw Because Internet get good reviews when it came out but I just couldn’t get to it. Then surprise! Past me had apparently put the audiobook on hold via ICPL’s Libby and it came available last week. Conveniently, I was in need of an audiobook during commute time so I zipped right through it.
This is such a fun and informative book! McCulloch writes in a style that sits in a comfortable middle-space between layman and scientist which makes it a treat to learn about how informal writing on the Internet has changed and is still changing, from the old Usenet days up through present day LOLcat memes (just like I’m the dog’s-tail of GenX I am the dog’s-tail of the InternetOlds). The audiobook is read by the author and McCulloch makes it really fun, like listening to a cool professor lecture.
Dear FTC: I borrowed this book from my library’s Libby/Overdrive service.