In his provocative new book, The Shallows, Nicholas Carr argues that the internet is changing the way we think.
Citing numerous scientific studies, Carr asserts that spending extended periods of time on the internet, with its perpetual interruptions and distractions, decreases our ability to concentrate, lessens our reading comprehension and makes it harder for us to retain information.
Perhaps most damning of all is his assertion that our internet experience makes us less creative.
He may be right. Creativity, in my experience, requires deep thinking and prolonged, focused concentration.
One might feel more creative, in a superficial sense of the word, hopping and skipping about the web, enjoying its wealth of stimulation.
But when it comes to the real work of organizing something out of chaos, of giving form and structure to the messy reality of the world, a quieter, less stimulating environment provides a more creative context.
This is not in any way to belittle the value of the internet. It is a fantastic research tool, and can be a wonderful place to wander around when one is creatively blocked and needs an infusion of ideas, images and sounds just to get the juices flowing.
But unless we leave the web our thoughts and insights may never add up to much, forever floating about aimlessly in the shallows.