Ralph Waldo Emerson explores the power of symbols in his essay "The Poet" (audio iTunes version here ) where he describes their importance not only to poets but to everyone. The true poet being simply the most effective user of them, rendering the natural & spiritual worlds transparent through their use.
Emerson, if he were still with us, would not have been surprised by the rise of "new media" and the democratization of publishing and computing that it has unleashed. The masses also have the same desire for human expression that we attribute to the poet, as Emerson recognized, despite the fact that their abilities are constrained and their particular genius is limited.
It is the human desire to create and to express, coupled with enabling technologies, that has fueled the growth of the web. Now that the genie is out of the bottle there is no predicting where the muse of the masses might lead, but it should be an interesting ride.