Directions Magazine has a great big-picture article, Spatial Information Management (SIM) – Then, Now, Next, which provides a potted history of GIS that puts the current technological rapids in context. Among the gems:
First, information technology always evolves toward the way that people think and act. Location is a fundamental part of the way we think and act.
I too have wondered why it took so long for web information to finally start reorganizing itself along geographic lines. I suspect the URL, and the location-free dimension it inhabits, is soon going to be thoroughly linked to coordinate pairs, not least by Google Earth/Maps and the swarm of social mapping applications that it is breeding.
I learned a lot from this article.