Information technologies have two sides to their popularity:
- they are novel communication channels
- they allow for automation of repetitive tasks (either simple or complex)
While both have been used since the conception of electricity as a controlling signal, it's the arrival of the World Wide Web in the 90's that has really made clear to the general population the implications of information as a technological product.
The WWW primarily exploits the communication side of ITs, though. It still remains to be seen a similar popular-culture event that equally conveys the implications of the automation possibilities. People typically fail to grasp the impact that a massive mechanization of information tasks can have on society.
The only topics close to popular awareness are email spam and computer viruses/malware, but unfortunately the general population don't understand the inner workings of those phenomena; they only feel their nastiness, but not the reason why they are so prevalent.
When a mechanism appears that allows people to easily take advantage of computer automation, we'll see a second transformation of the Internet in a similar scale of what happened when the Web arrived. "Web 2.0" is on the right path with its focus on widgets and web-apps, but so far the most popular automatisms in this class are those that provide automatic notification to a group of acquaintances in the social relations graph (Facebook, Tweeter).