Editorial style, of course. 🙂
For my work, I don’t use the Associated Press Stylebook that often, so when they announce a change in their style, I don’t pay much attention. But this one is kind of a big deal because the two terms that are changing are used all the time. So according to AP, from now on, we’re not supposed to capitalize “Internet” and “Web” anymore because have become generic terms.
I don’t really mind lowercasing “web” because I prefer “website” instead of the clunky “Web site” (my company’s style guide uses that) or the even uglier “Website.” There are also terms like “webinar” and “webpage” (or “web page”) that make more sense lowercased and generic, so that part makes me happy. It doesn’t make sense to use both lowercase “website” and capital “Web” in the same document, which some clients prefer.
But I don’t know about lowercasing “internet.” I’m in the habit of always capitalizing it because it’s the Internet. You can practically hear the capital I when someone says it. I don’t think I ever hear anyone refer to just “internet” or “an internet” generically. I would think that a company’s own corner of the big Internet that’s shared just within that company would be an intranet, but I could be wrong. And of course, saying “internets” makes you sound like a lolcat.
So it doesn’t seem like “internet” is used to describe anything other than that big linked network of online sites. I don’t hear people use it in any other way. We don’t describe our real-life network of friends and acquaintances as an “internet” unless we’re literally referring to our social networking sites. But over time, terms do usually become more generalized, and two-word terms like “web site” (or “Web site”) do tend to first be hyphenated (web-site), then get smushed into one word (“website”) as time passes.
I’m not good with change, but we’ll see how this style trend plays out.