A Grammar Question for the Digital Age

This post was going to be about the travel equivalent of the little black dress. You know. The indispensable item you throw into your suitcase first, wherever the destination, be it Belize, Boston or Bhopal. The post idea was prompted by an article that appeared                    the Huffington Post.

That’s where I stopped. I didn’t know whether to fill that blank with “in” or “on”.

If I were referencing an article I’d read in The New York Times, I’d have no problem. But the HuffPost (and Slate and Salon) only exist electronically. Is a click-through the equivalent of a page turn? If so, then I suppose we read articles “in” web-based publications. It just doesn’t feel right, though. I read items “on” a device, whether it’s my iPhone, iPad or MacBook. What’s in my hands is the conduit, not the actual content – never has, never will be. So “on” would appear to be the better choice.

Normally, when confronting grammatical conundrums like this, I’d ask myself “What would Strunk & White do?” [Note to self: trademark WWS&WD, make bracelets, sell to every liberal arts college bookstore to be displayed next to Elements of Style.] Since you’re reading this on/in my blog I’m asking for your assistance with this one. If we can reach consensus, we’ll tackle those other thorny existential issues: chickens, eggs, trees in the forest, etc.Strunk and White

19 thoughts on “A Grammar Question for the Digital Age

  1. Love that book. I bought the illustrated copy by Penguin a few years back and it’s an indispensable source of anything about grammar and sentence construction.

  2. ON — The preposition follows the device — TV/PC/cellphone/Ipad/Kindle all are “on” devices, for now. It raises interesting questions about the superficiality of the digital realm though. That is until we port William Gibson-like into the web, then we will be IN. Hmm, can’t wait for those Open Suitcase entries!!

  3. I have never had the pleasure of reading that book but I would have to agree it is not quite the same as having the actual paper in your hand. So I guess my answer would be ‘on’?!

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  5. My vote is also for “on”. Also, being a “frequent flyer” I’m hoping you haven’t ditched the idea of a post on “the travel equivalent of the little black dress”! BTW, I nominated you for the “Sunshine Award” on my post today!

  6. I would say “that appeared online in the Huffington Post,” or “that appeared in the Huffington Post online,” or “that appeared in the online publication, the Huffington Post.” Definitely not on. That just sounds all wrong to me. And I love love love Strunk and White. OMIT NEEDLESS WORDS!

  7. Good question, I must admit I would read thru it either way without giving it a second thought. I try my best to avoid grammatical errors when posting, but they happen. It seems to be a sticky point with some. Recently a reader from Greece felt it necessary to correct me at every turn. I didn’t feel too bad, since I don’t write it for people like that. The posts I enjoy are: honest, interesting and sometimes funny and I don’t mind spelling or grammatical errors one bit, life’s too short. 🙂

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