Up until April 30th of this year, that message would have been written as “STOP SHOUTING” – but the all-caps format is gone for good, according to James McCarty, who leads the naval messaging program at U.S. Fleet Cyber Command. Back in the mid-19th century, when the teletype machine was first used to send messages to and from ships and military bases, there were no lower-case letters, so all text came out in capital letters. A hundred years later, however, as manual and then electric typewriters and finally computers became the common communication devices, using both upper- and lower-case letters was not only possible, but standard. However, the habits of a century are hard to break, and until this year even computer-generated official messages used all capital letters.
It turns out that switching to the more common format will save the U.S. Navy money over the long run, especially since no reformatting of messages will be necessary when posting messages on a variety of media, including e-mail messages and printed documents. What’s more, since an all-caps format is generally used as the equivalent of an electronic shout, sailors won’t feel like they’re being yelled at in even the simplest message. (After all, that’s what basic training is for, right?)
Right now the U.S. Army is keeping the all-caps format for their official messages, though researchers agree that the normal (and grammatically-correct) mix of upper- and lower-case letters is easier to read. Despite fears that the new “relaxed” format might encourage some of the 21st-century habits like emoticons and textspeak, bringing military communication into the modern age should turn out to be a good thing all around.
OVER AND OUT.