Google Book Search
I had a cool experience a few weeks back with Google's Book Search. I was using regular google to research a non-technology topic, and got a hit inside of a textbook. I read the scanned page and it looked like a really worthwhile lead. I hopped over to the local library website and requested the ISBN through inter-library loan, and it showed up at the library branch at the end of my street a few days later.
Applying google-fu to a domain of knowledge that didn't have it before is jarringly cool. I could show up at a library and try to reproduce this workflow using old-school tech, but it would have involved picking the right database(s) to search, dealing with abstracts vs. full text, etc -- or (more likely) asking a kindly and patient librarian to walk me through it.
In short, it wouldn't have happened.
I tried to think about what the next steps would be to making this workflow even more streamlined, and it seemed obvious: instead of using ILL, google would sell/rent me the electronic copy of the book and (ideally) send it to my electronic paper device. (I'm assuming e-paper will finally exist by the time google et al works out the copyright licensing.)
I had this experience a couple weeks ago, but with google announcing plans to sell old newspapers, this idea seems even more obvious.
Can you appreciate the symmetry of Google making baby steps into media publishing while Amazon does the same with grid computing?