As someone who does a lot of screwing around on the internet in the name of creativity, it’s always nice to read an article like this from Wired about the value of distraction (especially the kind you run into on social networks).
A random scrap of information can trigger just the right conceptual collision. It’s hard to know which scrap might do the trick, but that’s the beauty of social networks — they constantly produce potential sparks, for free.
In all seriousness, though, two things jump out at me about this: First, it falls into some of the thinking I’ve had about the role of serendipity tools in the creative process. What makes the web magical is it’s ability to deliver the information you didn’t know you were looking for and I absolutely believe you can optimize services for that (I’m working on one now). Second, and I think I’ve mentioned this in the past, I see a real connection between input and output: When I stop spending time on the web consuming content, I don’t think as well.