I don't need silence and seclusion in order to write. Just the opposite. I do my best writing with the television on full blast. Another good place is an airport because it's really busy and loud. When I feel blocked, I just go to a bar and the ideas start flowing. I really like having people around to talk to while I write. It also helps greatly to have several windows open on my computer with websites that are totally unrelated to my subject (hence all this blogging now that I'm dedicating this summer to writing and publishing).
It seems that switching between different channels of information is a very helpful technique. It allows me to generate ideas and to express them in writing faster than I would otherwise. I have been reading some books by older academics who give advice on how to write and publish a lot. What these authors don't take into account, however, are the changes in the way our brain works that occur as a result of our immersion in the ever-growing number of information flow channels. All their advice is, for the most part, limited to the outdated "go into your office, lock the door behind you, and don't let any one bother you."
I'm not suggesting that silence and solitude are not still practiced by many academics. I know many people who can't work unless there is no noise whatsoever to distract them. Nevertheless, I do know that our brain has an amazing capacity to adapt itself to the changes in the environment. So all the whining about the television, the Internet, and the multiple information flows that robotize and consume us makes me laugh. Some critics go as far as to suggest that the remote control now controls our lives. This is an incredibly impotent view of things. The generation of people who lived their entire lives with television has learned to disconnect from television without any need for the remote. You just close up the channel in your brain that receives this particular wave of sounds and images and switch on to something else.