I don't mean to sound defeatist. I believe in change and improvement. But I believe in change centred on and driven by rare good people, not a notion of the common man set free.
And who do you think props up all those 'rare good people', Wals? Because most of them are not millionaires, most of them don't have millions of hands, or minds, or even perspectives that they can use at once. And the number of 'rare good people' expands dramatically when you expand the definition to 'normal people' who are experts or professionals in a field (which thankfully even the dumbest among us tend to be), your scepticism towards the concept of change being driven by 'the common man set free' really starts to fall apart.
The Internet would unambiguously be a society-shatteringly good thing even if its only purpose were to magnify the abilities of those 'rare good people' (who are rather common), but thankfully it isn't. The Internet is not a uniform good, like much of technology. But damn, mate, it has a pretty smegging good track record.
By the way, if anybody is curious about some of the ways the Internet has, is and will be shaping humanity in the future, these topics are worth doing some research on (Wikipedia is a good place to start... haha):
Khan Academy (while this fits well into your 'rare good people argument, Wals, the fact is ordinary people have been sharing their knowledge freely and accurately on the Internet since its inception - all those tutorial writers for whatever topic you can think of and which we all find handy fairly often are a classic example of the power of the average joe when given a medium to share his expertise in his field)
Mesh networking (check this out if you're curious about truly eliminating Internet censorship, or are curious about ways to decentralise the Internet and thus make it more fault-tolerant)