The Navy's getting hip to the era of social media and will end (although not 100 percent) official communications that use ALL CAPITAL LETTERS exclusively.
At the Wall Street Journal, "NOW HEAR THIS: NAVY ABANDONS ALL CAPS: Official Communications, Long Written Large, Can Use Mixed Case; No Shouting":
More at the link.
Since the 19th century, all official Navy communications have been written that way, a legacy of primitive technology combined with the service's love of tradition.
But in the modern age, young sailors more accustomed to texting on their phones consider TYPING IN ALL CAPS akin to shouting. Typographers, meanwhile, have long maintained that all-caps text is hard on the eyes.
So the Navy, amid a modernization of its communications system, decided it would make its official messages more readable—and potentially less rude.
In an April order delivered in all capital letters, U.S. Fleet Cyber Command announced sailors were "AUTHORIZED TO USE STANDARD, MIXED-CASE CHARACTERS IN THE BODY OF NAVY ORGANIZATIONAL MESSAGES."
It noted, however, that sailors shouldn't go crazy. Standard mixed-case sentences were only appropriate for the body of the text.
"RECOMMEND CONTINUE TO USE UPPER CASE IN LINES BEFORE REMARKS," the order said.
Because of legacy systems that use the old all-caps Teletype language, the Navy could only make the shift after adopting a new messaging system it is moving to this year. The system has the added benefit of using fewer computer servers and costing $15 million less a year to operate.
The Navy was not unconcerned about the tender feelings of young sailors.
"If an ancillary benefit is that sailors reading message traffic no longer feel they're being screamed at…that is a good thing too," said a Navy official. The official insisted the move was not an example of the service going soft.
Vice Adm. Herbert F. Leary wrote in June 1942 to Adm. Chester Nimitz after the latter's victory at the Battle of Midway: "ALL HANDS HERE WATCH GRAND SHOW NEAR MIDWAY AND SEND ADMIRING BEST WISHES AND CONGRATULATIONS X KEEP EM SINKING." It might not have looked as jubilant if Adm. Leary had written instead, "keep em sinking."
The Navy acknowledges not everyone is happy with the change. "Some of the fleets were stuck in their ways and really wanted to keep the all-caps," said James McCarty, the Naval messaging program manager at Fleet Cyber command. "But it was inevitable. It had to happen."
Some senior officers believe once the ALL CAPS disappear, any number of strange characters might enter Navy orders, such as @, % or even—gasp—emoticons.
Mr. McCarty says he doesn't think emoticons will appear in official Navy communications. "Someone could put a smiley face or a heart in there. It may very well happen," he said. "But it would be the last thing that person ever does."