Here's a link to a piece describing an interesting study that set out to place a value on our newfound search capabilities (using Google as the test engine, of course).
At face value, this piece demonstrates the way that Internet companies like Google really do make the world better for individuals.
At a somewhat deeper level though, the lesson applies far beyond Google. "Surplus" is a critical concept to understanding the miracle of market economies. Corporations always generate positive externalities, or benefits that they are unable to monetize. Those benefits operate to improve the lot of their customers, along with their workers, neighbors, competitors, and society at large.
The extent to which people miss this basic message is astounding. A few years ago at Burning Man, I found myself in a public debate with a Marxist grad student who exemplified the phrase "missing the point."