The internet is a weird and wonderful tool. Between Wikipedia, YouTube, digital versions of newspapers and social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, it's becoming harder and harder to switch off or tune out the constant stream of traffic from the information superhighway. While immediate access to scores of up-to-date information is extremely valuable, we've all spent an hour, an evening, or a day on the internet and realized that we'd done nothing of use or note in that space of time. Indeed, browsing the web without any specific goal in mind can feel a lot like watching daytime TV or reruns of your favorite show: it's something to do but it's not exactly nutrition for the brain, is it?
Have you ever wondered about the long term affects of all this mental junk food? Epipheo, a project that aims to "extract life-changing epiphanies from some of the world's top thought-leaders" and make them accessible to everyone interviewed Nicholas Carr, the author of, "The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains," and created a video based on his thoughts. It's worth a watch if you spend any considerable amount of time gazing intently at your smartphone, tablet, or computer screen.
Or rather; I think there has always been a relatively small percentage of the population that is capable of that kind of deep thinking in the first place (mostly due to a lack of self discipline, or seeing the need for it in the first place). I had the great fortune of growing up with computers before the web was redily available. I mean, we had it (or rather prodigy), but I was often not allowed to use it, and when I did use it there was only so much you could do with a 28.8 connection. So I thankfully learned to treat computers more of as a tool first, and a source of entertainment second.
But you look at most of my generation and younger and they were introduced to computers with full blown internet. They see the computer more as a mysterious extension of television (something I didn't have due to where I grew up), always hopping from one thing to the next rather than having a goal and using the computer to achieve said goal.
I never really thought about it much until recently because I now have 2 kiddos, and I am soon going to have to train them on how to use computers as a tool for a purpose, rather than it just being a sewage pipe of information that pumps more at them than they could ever hope to process. They definitely need lots of good exposure to the computer/web in order to function in the future where more and more things are web/tech based, but I am not quite sure how to teach them to view it as an external tool rather than internalized noise...
A more interesting topic would be relation between the amount time spent on social media or watching TV to what a person thinks about Obama. =)
If someone has the greatest idea of all time, I would hope they immediately begin to transcribe their idea into any capture format they have available. Relying on your memory of a spark of innovation has always been a bad idea, this is not new to the internet.