And pain. For it allows what may have seemed like bright ideas at the time ('let's use it to make sure our customers have the latest software', for example) to turn into a stinking pit of misery — usually, but by no means always, after marketing gets its fangs in.
Here are just ten of the guilty parties who try to do the impossible: to make us hate the internet and wish it had never been invented — and who very nearly succeed.
This gallery was written by Rupert Goodwins, ZDNet.co.uk.
Which is a shame, because other lightweight PDF readers seem to manage perfectly well.
We've been kind and not talked about Vista.
At least Europe's been spared Real's Rhapsody music shop. When we looked at a beta before a subsequently abandoned UK launch, we were given software to install. 'Disable your firewall', it commanded. 'Drop dead', we replied.
Java doesn't know this. Java wants to be in your face. Java wants to be updated. Java wants to tell you the good news about Sun. Have you heard about Sun? Here's a nice picture of our logo. And fancy a copy of OpenOffice? No? Well, never mind. Java's installed a copy of Yahoo Toolbar in your browser instead. Because that's what programming languages are there to do, right?
And there is absolutely no point in a toolbar that just replicates all the options on your web site's front page. Not unless you want to come across as the sort of shrill, desperate, needy software company that makes big noises about user relationships but in fact knows less about its users than the Queen does about shopping in Lidl.
Then there's Microsoft's Outlook. Things have been getting better for those whose corporate upgrade strategy allows it, but with major updates happening every four years or so that's a long time to be looking at a non-threaded, licence-restricted storage- squeezed, treacle-slow-searching email system. Especially while the online services get better and better, and doubly so now that email is the single most important business application ever created.
In fact, Flash-based web sites are quite possibly one of the most useful pieces of network technology around. Like heroin or microlights, they ensure that those who think it's a good idea aren't around to annoy us for too long.