I thoroughly recommend an excellent post by Adam Thierer entitled Are you an Internet optimist or pessimist? He presents a very balanced analysis of the whole debate about technology's impact on society. Will the social web result in a dumbing-down of public discussion or does it foster diversity and wider participation, is it the end of professionally produced content and news or the beginning of true democracy, is it wisdom of crowds or mob rule, is it empowerment or hopeless fragmentation?
Adam traces the history of opposition to technical innovation and states the case for both the internet optimists and the pessimists with plenty links to key texts over the last decade of debate. His conclusion is that cautious optimism wins the day on points. However he warns both sides of the dangers of ignoring the oppostion's arguments. Many of the sceptics' fears are highly valid and it's no good dismissing them by saying that they are out of touch with reality.
"The sensible middle ground position is “pragmatic optimism”: We should embrace the amazing technological changes at work in today’s Information Age but do so with a healthy dose of humility and appreciation for the disruptive impact and pace of that change."
He closes the article with a fine statement of belief, The pragmatic (internet) optimist's creed. Well worth reciting once in a while.