What's happened now? What is this phenomenon that's come together?
First its the communications. That's bandwidth for our old friend email, FTP, and in this case, remote procedure call, voice, and whatever. Much of the Internet’s use is people communication in chat groups and looking at bulletin boards.
There's the content issue coming with databases and now multimedia as the important data type. These give us library access, education, and entertainment.
And finally computation. That is the ability of the nodes to compute. All of these uses are conspiring to allow commerce in this attractive and engrossing media.