The worm and email threats once again raise the problem of Microsoft's continued failure to produce secure systems. Furthermore, the most recent spate suggests a darker possibility, that such attacks are about getting access to computers, for criminal reasons.
That email, which is being driven by spam through a phase change into becoming a broadcast medium, was a leading spreading mechanism has led to critiques of the medium itself, most notable the "email is dead" meme. For instance, from the blogRSS wing, Adam Curry recommends "a publish/subscribe model for personal communications," such as a private, friend-to-friend RSS feed. He cries: "I want a receiver, not a mailbox" (via LockerGnome).
In contrast, and just before the current crisis began, Siva Vaidhyanathan recommended p2p as a model for collaborations and cultural vibrancy (among other things, of course), despite the established presence of viruses, spyware, and other dangers in some p2p nets, and the likely current decline in p2p usage.
At the same time we have a new creature: benign worms. Welchia (a/k/a/ Nachi, etc.) invades machines to save them from other worms, even pinging the net to check for successful cleansing. Like the tyranny-smashing worm in Raphael Carter's fascinating first novel The Fortunate Fall , which spreads to compel political organization against a horrible regime, the worm invades our machines deeply to impress them for a higher purpose (thanks to Steven Kaye for getting me to read it). Once again, we find ourselves exploring the posthuman infoscape, with nonhuman entities acting across it, occasionally affecting parts of our blurrily-defined selves. And yet, as Carter's work should remind us, we haven't yet seen worms with more openly understood political purposes - campaign propaganda, crashing machines to hurt or terrify an audiences, mobilization of computing power, etc.