Having said that, the time must surely come when Google is no longer the only "gateway to the internet." Maybe when that happens, Google will have moved on so much, they won't even care.
Personally, I don't think it will be search (or perhaps "search, Jim, but not as we know it").
web 2.0 showed- and still shows- promise, but this has yet to be realised. Enhanced directories? personalized AI? toolbars 2.0? Directory/search combos? portal/vortal networks?
There are plenty of possible contenders.
In the meantime, Google works to keep its SERPS as useful and helpful as possible, while every day the multitude try every trick they can to get to the top of its results.
You can't hold this against Google.
It's what they have to do. Clean SERPS are critical to their ongoing success.
By the way, I admit it. I'm a "self published , informational webmaster". I agree that this probably colors my view of these issues.