When the word went out today that the editors of The Associated Press Stylebook would announce changes in AP style at the national conference of the American Copy Editors Society, the nation ground to a halt.

Factories suspended production. Police and fire departments called in employees on overtime. Members of the Cabinet were summoned to the White House. Knots of anxious civilians gathered in the streets to speculate worriedly on the decisions about to be handed down. Some ducked into bars for fortification.

And then the tweets began scattering across the Twitterverse:

E-mail will become email as of 3 a.m. EDT on March 19, 2011.

The sensation that this announcement sparked cannot be described.

But there was more.

Cell phone and smart phone fuse into single words.

Gasps go up from the crowd in Times Square.

And in Britain, where they are apparently able to take these things with less commotion, @guardianstyle comments: “Early reaction to that #apstyle about-turn on email: ‘I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth.’ "

No doubt other earth-shattering changes will appear this spring when the 2011 edition of the stylebook comes out. Until then, brown paper bags will be distributed to those hyperventilating over the initial announcement.

Hopefully, the next post here will be able to return to issues that matter.



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