They're passing, fleeting thoughts. Little opportunities that leave us almost before they're conceptualized. They may pop up in a conversation, often being pushed there by an inquisitive child. The answer is, too often, "I don't know. What do you want for dinner?"
The iPhone changes that.
It opens a door to finding out answers, looking up facts, and exploring the questions of whimsy. It doesn't take much to pull a phone from your pocket, tap in a few letters, and turn up reasons, explanations, and background.
Our questions no longer have to give way to the exigencies of the moment, like buying fish for dinner, waiting at the bus stop for your sister to arrive, or not being near any computers as we walk through the woods.
When my kids have questions, my iPhone has answers. Those answers often lead to some of our best conversations, too, as we weigh the facts, analyze the data, and further explore our world in ways that could have ended with a simple "I don't know."
Does the iPhone make us smarter?
I think it may.