capitalist dictators

As November approaches, I find myself hankering to join in on that mad month of collective daily blog posting known as NaBloPoMo. I’ve been crazy busy with work and life, but having now participated for 4 years running, I still want to give it a go. The NaBloPoMo headquarters have been relocated from their previous home at Ning to BlogHer. I went to the page where I needed to go to list my blog for the November blogroll, and stopped short.

I found myself very irritated, perhaps unreasonably so, by the instructions “Please enter your blog name, capitalizing the words as you would any title.” The trouble is, I do not capitalize my blog title. My blog title is collecting tokens, not Collecting Tokens. I don’t really mind when people capitalize it, when, say, mentioning me in a post, or listing me on a blogroll. But I do mind being told that I should capitalize it when I list it somewhere.

Putting the title in lower case was a deliberate stylistic choice I made when I started my blog nearly 5 years ago. I can’t exactly say why, but given my Propensity for using Capitalization in a Tongue-in-Cheek way to signal Pomposity and Officiousness (c.f. The Ministry of Silly Blogs, which is decidedly Capitalized), I suspect that I wasn’t feeling all that Serious. This blog, my main blog, is an informal place for me to unload my thoughts, memories, creative outbursts, and so on. The lower case perhaps reflects the lower bar; this site is a work in progress. (For that matter, I also decided on the blogging name of alejna, which, while it bears a striking similarity to my legal first name, is not the same. The stylistic difference is meaningful to me.)

So, I was about to sign up for NaBloPoMo, but I have hesitated. I mean, I hate to look like I can’t follow directions. I am predisposed to Following Directions when dealing with Bureaucracy. But to capitalize my blog name feels just Wrong™.

Here’s the thing: blogging is a new medium. (Well, it may seem old in today’s whirlwind of social media, but it hasn’t been around all that many years.) It is a form of self-publishing that has been revolutionary. Individuals have the power to put their written words out there to reach potentially large audiences without the constraints dictated by traditional printed media. Yes, this does lead to a wide range of writing and grammar skills sharing space on the web. Sure, there may be plenty of downright errors. Spelling errors, word misuse, typos, and all that jazz. Yes, some people could clearly benefit from an editor. But this medium also encourages stylistic liberties. We can choose to boldly split infinitives. Use sentence fragments. Or we can decide to begin sentences with conjunctions. And dammit, we can choose how to capitalize our own freakin’ blog titles.

Looking through my blogroll, I see that I am not alone in my capitalizing choices. Many bloggers have even chosen to further eschew capitalization norms, such as the writers of baggage carousel 4, crib chronicles, These three women are well-educated (highly educated, even), intelligent, and fantastic writers. They certainly know how to capitalize according to the style guides. (And my guess is that there are contexts in which they choose to go along with the capitalization norms.) They choose to write without capitalizing their sentence-initial words or first person singular subject pronouns.

Dictating how bloggers should present their blog titles is stylistic prescriptivism that I don’t feel should be part of blogging. If you publish a scholarly journal, by all means tell people how to capitalize and punctuate their section headers. Tell them, if you feel so strongly about it, what font to use and when, exactly, to italicize. But if you are a blogging hub and listing the blogs of many across the diverse blogosphere, respect the stylistic fluidity of the medium. (And dudes, with a name like NaBloPoMo, making an issue out of archaic style guidelines just makes you look Silly™.)

What about you? How do you feel about capitalization? If you have a blog, do you, too, feel that your choice of capitalization is integral to the blog name?

p.s. Having gotten this rant out of my system, I went ahead and just filled out the form. But I used lower case. Because I am a Rebel like that.