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Siliconia -- Part 1
A -- Silicon F

[ Go to Siliconia TOC | A -- Silicon F | Silicon G -- Silicon O | Silicon P -- Z ]


Oakland County, Michigan, USA [1999]

On 1999-09-28 the Detroit News ran a rather plaintive piece on the struggles of Automation Alley to achieve name recognition and momentum as a high-tech mecca. The article correctly pinpoints the two main ingredients missing from this region dominated by car manufacturers: a world-class technical school and available venture capital. An Automation Alley organization has signed up many of the incumbent tech companies and put up a fancy Web site. The Detroit News story says they have a 5-language CD-ROM too.



Arnhem Land, northern Australia [1996]

From Kevin Murray <kmurray at werple dot net dot au>: "Just an antipodean note to your marvelous collection of Siliconia. An area in the remote northern tip of Australia named Arnhem Land contains a large number of multimedia projects, often focused on Aboriginal culture. This lends it the name Billy-can Valley after the bush equipment for making tea on an open fire."



Orange County, California, USA [1998-05-11, LA Times]

Barbara Walsh, a medical reporter for the Los Angeles Times, writes about the efforts by a San Francisco-based company to establish the name Biotech Beach in southern California, with over 50 biotech companies located there. Synergistic Media Network produces regional industry maps, postcards, tee shirts, and other promotional materials on which local companies pay to be listed. The president of one company that did not renew its affiliation said, "Biotech Beach is resonating at a pretty modest frequency as far as I'm concerned."



Somewhere vague in Japan [2000-05-02, Upside]

David James penned an article for Upside, titled Bit Valley Fever, about the Japanese hunger for US-style venture-backed entrepreneurial spirit. Bit Valley is not so much a place as a state of mind. James didn't coin the term, it's in widespread use in Japan, he says. Here's how James "locates" Bit Valley:

Bit Valley takes its name from Shibuya, which literally translates as "bitter" (shibu) and "valley" (ya). First named the Bitter Valley Association, it was soon digitized to the Bit Valley Association. Now Bit Valley is a generic term with diminished geographic relevance, akin to the term Silicon Valley.



Newport, Gwent, South Wales

From Simon Whitaker <simon at netcetera dot org>: "This site makes reference to Cwm Silicon -- Cwm is Welsh for valley -- an area of Newport in Gwent, South Wales. (The site belongs to Paul Flynn, the local Member of Parliament.) The area has recently seen heavy investment by the Korean LG corporation who have built a large semi-conductor plant there. There are also various tech-orientated office units and call centres, including Dun and Bradstreet's UK call centre where my wife works in tech support. The UK press were rattling on last year about Newport being the 'new Seattle.'"

Whitaker notes that "cwm" is pronounced somewhere between "come" and "coom," depending on which area of Wales the speaker hails from.



City of Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India [1997]

From David Herron. Hyderabad enjoys a politician, Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, who has long pushed the city as a technology resource. Some time in 1997, the city decided to refer to itself as Cyberabad. This WIPO transcript from October 1998 makes reference to this proposal and the immediate scramble for domain names it kicked off. (Cyberabad.com was registered, not by city officials, on 1997-12-31.)

A search on Netcraft turns up 41 registered domain names containing the string "cyberabad"; most of these are either empty, "parked," or for sale. Two active portal sites are cyberabad.com and cyberabadinfo.com.

In March 2000, US President Bill Clinton visited Cyberabad during his tour of India.



Coachella Valley from Palm Springs to Thermal, California, USA [1998]

From Gordon Fisher <gmfisher at popnetusa dot com>: "I have to confess that I coined the term, and use it in my website, the Cyberchella Valley Gazette. I am founder of the Coachella Association of Multimedia Producers (CAMP) and I think most people would be pleasently surprised to find that the Coachella Valley has such high-tech enterprises as motion capture studios, 3D animation studios, software companies, leading infomercial studios, dozens of web-site developers (who wants to leave home when it's 120 degrees outside?), digital sound studios and soon, some major multimedia schools. We're not just hotels and medjool dates anymore."



Boston, Massachusetts, USA [1997]

From Will Kreth <wkreth at twmaine dot com>: The area of downtown Boston between Summer and Congress Streets, near Fort Point Channel, has organized itself as the CyberDistrict. The site originally featured a map showing the locations of some of its member organizations, but it seems to have grown beyond such parochial concerns. From the FAQ:

How is the Cyber District different from other technology communities such as Multimedia Gulch, Silicon Alley, and Silicon Prairie?

The Cyber District is more than a geographic or economic entity -- we are a professional organization which maintains a close network of professional and community programs, and our members are committed to actively growing the interactive industry in Massachusetts while remaining involved in our community.

Ayuh, that really sets it apart all right.



Coast south from Ventura, California, USA [1997]

On 1998-02-19 the mayor of Los Angeles launched the moniker Digital Coast for the area of coastline from Ventura to the Mexico border. The area is home to software, Internet, aerospace, bandwidth, and multimedia companies. Digital Coast is being turned into an official brand, following the trend among the latecomers to the game of Siliconia -- witness Cyber District (Boston, MA) and WebPort (Portland, ME).



the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood of Cincinnati, Ohio, USA [1999]

Christopher R. McMahon wrote with a pointer to this Cincinatti Enquirer article from last October. The correspondent wasn't coining the term Digital Rhine, he was reporting it already in use in an old and somewhat run-down part of the city called Over-the-Rhine. This year a tech incubator in the district, Main Street Ventures, put up a site at www.digitalrhine.com. The area now houses a couple of dozen Internet startups, with other tech-related and supporting businesses numbering over a hundred.



Silicon Valley, California, USA [2001]

On 2001-06-24, the San Francisco Chronicle's Rob Morse coined, or promulgated, the term Dot Bowl for the formerly high-flying Silicon Valley, progenitor of all Siliconia. With the crumbling of the dot-economy and the closure of dozens of dot-coms since the spring of 2000, the Valley has come to resemble the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Morse's column includes this snippet:

High tech, what a joke. What's the latest Silicon Valley status symbol? "A job," says Paul Saffo of the Institute for the Future. Alas, we asked around for more Silicon Valley jokes, but there weren't any. Like the Dust Bowl, there's not a lot of humor to be found in the Dot Bowl.



Massachusetts, USA [1999]

On 1999-10-21 the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, with the help of scores of Internet startups, launched the campaign to brand the state the .commonwealth (pronounced "dot commonwealth"). It's an exccedingly clever name. The PR push begins with a Web site. On launch day it's a little spare in the details of Massachusetts companies, but has useful lists of high-tech organizations and their dot-com events. At the Dot Comonwealth launch ceremony, the Massachusetts governor, Paul Cellucci, claimed that an old nickname that has haunted the state -- Taxachusetts -- no longer applies. Besides talking up his administration's policy of cutting taxes on Massachusetts businesses, Cellucci called for a permanent, worldwide ban on all taxation of Net economic activity. He said, "It seems to me it's crazy to try to sort out" the more than 60,000 taxing authorities worldwide.



Area around the University of Leuven, Belgium [1999]

Jan Offner, of the Flanders Foreign Investment Office, sent news of the tech region in Levuen. Many of the companies there -- and the university at the center of the action -- specialize in digital signal processing, hence DSP Valley. Offner wrote, "The University of Leuven... is home to IMEC, one of Europe's prominent semiconductor research facilities... We have been having discussions (like everyone else) on how to avoid lapsing into the platitude of silicon this or that. I don't know if we did much better with DSP Valley."

___ e-Coast logo


Portsmouth, New Hampshire, USA [1999]

The area around Portsmouth, and the 18-mile NH seacoast and adjacent areas of Massachusetts and Maine, has been dubbed the e-Coast by the high-tech community there. The initiative's Web site is hip and Flashy, its logo a trendy swoosh. The e-Coast moniker is gaining some traction outside the area, judging by this Portsmouth Herald piece on the inclusion of the label in the March GQ magazine.

Thanks to Aaron Smith for the original word on the e-Coast.



Fairfax County, Virginia, USA [2000]

I became aware of the E-Country moniker when CNN correspondent Brooks Jackson called me for an interview. Jackson's piece ran on 2000-05-19 on the news program The World today, and it is transcribed for the Web here. (My talking head was on national TV for 8 seconds. I figure it will be deducted from my 15 minutes.) The impetus for the story was the announcement of a $1.4M media campaign to try to raise the tech profile of the area, home to AOL and Network Solutions among many others.



Area between Antwerp and Brussels, Belgium [1999]

Philip Droege called my attention to this Siliconium, launched last year by the Belgian royal family. The technology focus is on speech recognition; the FLV is anchored by superstar Lernhout & Hauspie, which has pledged funds to seed 10 language-related research parks around the world over the next few years. This site for the FLV Fund, with investments in scores of companies in nine countries, conveys some of the vibrancy behind this initiative.



Bangalore, India [1996]

From Joshua Levy <joshua at intrinsa dot com>: "I've worked in India and never heard the term Silicon Plateau. All the Indians I spoke with called the area around Bangalore India's Silicon Valley. I think this also qualifies as a Siliconium."

Note added 2000-08-30: This article in Business 2.0 updates the story of Bangalore: the city is living up to its reputation as India's Silicon Valley -- it's overcrowded and expensive; the a labor market is tight and the infrastructure tapped-out. Multi-national tech companies are now looking more colsely at neighboring Hyderabad (see Cyberabad).



Singapore [1997?]

From Kevin Lee <kevinjb at pl dot jaring dot my>: "The government of Singapore launched a plan called the IT2000 a few years ago that aims to make Singapore the first intelligent island in the world through comprehensive networking and applications on the network. SingaporeONE (One Network for Everyone) is the product of the plan that provides ADSL access to almost all households in the country. The network comes complete with a set of useful application and facilities such as high speed internet access, online shopping, online road traffic monitoring, acquiring government services online, movies on request, etc. The plan has also brought computers into the classroom and schools now use computers extensively to aid teaching. A number of multinational IT companies has a foothold in Singapore too, including IBM, Microsoft, Intel, etc."



Kista, a suburb of Stockholm, Sweden [1996]

From Hans Erik Nilsson <hasse at algonet dot se>: "Stockholm's own Silicon Valley, the suburban area named Kista, is often called Kiselsta. Kisel is the Swedish word for Silicon and stad is the Swedish word for city or town, making Kiselsta a play-with-words kinda thing meaning 'The City of Silicon.' "



Santa Monica / Marina Del Rey, California, USA [1996]

From <james at cyberoffice dot com>, 1996-11-14: "I heard that the area in Santa Monica / Marina Del Rey where all kinds of new media companies are located is called Media Del Rey." This moniker, however prevalent it might once have been, should decline now that the "official" name Digital Coast has been blessed (1998-02-19).



San Francisco, California, USA [1995-12-10, New York Times]
The area south of Market Street.

Like Silicon Alley, this area is named for the concentration of online-focused operations -- Wired and Hotwired live here -- as well as multimedia software and title development. Multimedia Gulch is a Siliconium of sorts, if you go back to the roots of Silicon Valley when it was called Silicon Gulch.

Anton Sherwood <antons at jp dot .net> adds: "As I understand it, Multimedia Gulch (San Francisco) is much smaller than 'South of Market.' SoMa broadly (the whole district between Market Street and China Basin) is close to a square mile, about half of which is the district of clubs, lofts, and warehouses usually meant by the label. Multimedia Gulch seems to be just the few blocks around South Park."



Area south of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia [1998?]

From Kevin Lee <kevinjb at pl dot jaring dot my>: "The Multimedia Super Corridor is an area 50 km by 25 km south of Malaysia's capital, Kuala Lumpur. Northernmost landmark -- Kuala Lumpur City Centre, which boost the tallest towers in the world, The Petronas Twin Towers. Southernmost landmark -- Kuala Lumpur International Airport. MSC is a federal government planned area for all high-tech companies. With its unusual incentives such as tax breaks, unlimited importation of knowledge workers and equipment, and so on, it has attracted a large number of international IT companies such as Microsoft, Sun Microsystems, Nippon Telegraph, and IBM. MSC's upcoming landmark includes the world's first 'intelligent cities.' They are:

"MSC has an International Advisory Panel that includes leaders of the IT field such as Bill Gates. MSC will also have some of the world's best telecommunication infrastructure. The government has identified several 'flagship' developments that include the use of a single smart card for multiple purposes (identification card, cash card, passport, driving licence, credit card, medical records) for the entire population in the county, intelligent school, telemedicine, government-IT, etc."

Business Week ran a cover story on 1999-03-22 titled "Mahathir's High-Tech Folly" that was, apparently, quite bearish on the prospects for the MSC. (I have not read it.) The article itself is available here but costs $2 to access. Here is the MSC's official response to Business Week.



Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA [1999-11-17, Forbes]
western suburbs centered around Valley Forge and Wayne.

Philicon Valley is an alternative form for the preferred Silicon Valley Forge, according to this Forbes article.



New York City, New York, USA [1995-10-08, New York Times]
Broadway from the Flatiron District to TriBeCa.

So called because of all the multimedia software and title development going on in the area. This Siliconium is one of my favorites because it evokes echoes of Tin Pan Alley. The original Tin Pan Alley was around 28th street between 6th and Broadway, just on the northern border of today's Silicon Alley. According to one of many pages devoted to this cyber district, Silicon Alley is "loosely defined as the area from 28th Street to Spring Street along Broadway, and three blocks East and West of Broadway along that stretch." Other sources claim all of Manhattan for the district, even all of New York State, and beyond. Last year's Silicon Alley 100 Awards for the top Net influencers chose a circle 100 miles in radius, centered on the Flatiron Building, as the Silicon Alley cachement area.



State of Carinthia, Austria

From Martijn Pierik <mpierik at mathewsandclark dot com>, who points out the Silicon Alps site.



2. Louisiana, USA

From Clifford E. Gregory <cgregory at tiac dot net>: "There is a printer called Silicon Bayou Ink In Lake Charles, LA. This URL mentions the Silicon Bayou, which is the newsletter of Analytical Automation Specialists in Baton Rouge, LA. On this page Alexandria, LA, is called Silicon Bayou."

1. Boca Raton, Florida, USA [1992?]

From Joshua Levy <joshua at intrinsa dot com>: "I saw this on a poster (advertising a trade show?) in an office of a guy at IBM - Boca Raton. The picture on the poster was a Terminator-like cyborg popping up out of the muck in a swamp."



2. Santa Barbara, California, USA [1997-01-20, L.A. Times]

From Ken Switzer <kswitzer at gte dot net>: "An article on Page 1 of the business section of the L.A. Times is titled 'Sun, Sand and Silicon' and discusses the emerging software industry in the Santa Barbara, CA area. It states the number of software firms in the area has grown from 95 to 134 since 1994... A quote in the article suggests we now be called Silicon Beach. Apparently Florida uses the term, but that is only an economic development campaign, not the real thing like we have here. Also, the primary local Internet Service Provider is called Silicon Beach."

1. Florida, USA [1996-10-04, Edupage]

> Silicon Beach?
> The state of Florida is going after the chip industry, hoping to lure
> microchip manufacturing plants to its sandy shores via tax credits and a
> $15-million cash incentive fund. The details must still be approved by the
> state legislature, but government officials are optimistic the strategy will
> meet with approval. "Florida has been considered a second-tier state by the
> industry," says a VP at Enterprise Florida, a quasi-governmental agency that
> promotes business interests in the state. (Wall Street Journal 2 Oct 96 F1)

It appears that the editors of Edupage are proposing this Siliconium. Their story does not put it in the mouth of any spokesman or quasi-governmental agency. It's clever, though: beaches are mostly composed of silicon, after all.

Silicon Beach Software, developer of the Macintosh game Dark Castle and the utilities SuperPaint and SuperCard, should perhaps get credit for earliest coinage of this Siliconium. Aldus bought Silicon Beach and was in turn bought by Adobe. Now the only SBS product still on the market is SuperCard -- it's being sold by Allegient, a company formed by several former SBS employees. (Thanks to Clark Shishido <cshishido at dev dot sig dot bsh dot com> and David Gewirtz <david at component-net dot com> for this SBS history.)

InterNIC indicates that the name "siliconbeach.com" was issued in October 1995, but to a different outfit, Silicon Beach Enterprises in Cardiff, CA -- their Web page is currently (1998-02-10) a "watch this space" placeholder, as it has been for 15 months now -- this may be the ISP referred to immediately below.



The midlands of Ireland [1995-09-25, San Jose Mercury News]

Larry Slonaker <Lslonaker at sjmercury dot com> cites Silicon Bog in his SJ Mercury News article. The SJMN quoted Harvard Business Professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter as follows:

"... Silicon Valley no longer is unique and no longer is able to monopolize the development of new technology. Everyone is already talking about Silicon Gulch in Austin, Silicon Mountain in Colorado, Silicon Forest in Seattle [sic], Silicon Bog in Ireland, and Silicon Glen in Scotland."



Chicago, USA [1998-05-11, The Business Journal]

Karen Rodriguez writes in The Business Journal, a San Jose / Silicon Valley technology paper, about the Siliconia phenomenon. The one new Siliconium Rodriguez turns up is Silicon City. She notes that in April Chicago abandoned its previous Siliconium -- Silicon Prairie -- for a new one. She quotes the director of the Chicago Research & Planning Group, hired by the city to create a tech center: "Our goal is to revitalize the economy here in Chicago," said Richard Arns. "We want to attract [technology] tenants in one building which will spawn bigger companies that bring money for R&D, hire local workers, and draw venture capital."

It's not clear to me that all of Chicago is behind this name switch -- sounds like one guy with one building.

From Tom Thornton <thornton at ilcoalition dot org> of the Illinois Coalition for Science and Technology:

"Let me clarify the use of Siliconia in Illinois. First, the most widely used moniker is Silicon Prairie. The term is obviously overused and seems to connote some wind-swept wasteland rather than a technology hotspot, but that aside it is without question the most frequently used term in the Chicago and statewide press (the Chicago Tribune's business and technology section is called, you guessed it, Silicon Prairie), from the lips of technology leaders and by regional trade groups like ours.

"Second, the City of Chicago has actually shied away from using any Siliconia in marketing or other PR materials, so any reference to them using Silicon City or Silicon Prairie is just incorrect. In fact the City has just embarked on a technology image campaign which has no reference whatsoever to any Silicon silliness. The City has chosen instead to lead with this phrase -- "Chicago: the most innovative move your technology company can make."

"Third, the term Silicon City comes from a local CIO organization called the Chicago Research and Planning Group. CRPG coined the term to describe a project of theirs to develop a building for IT firms similar in some respects to New York City's Silicon Alley."



Phoenix, Arizona, USA [1992?]

From Joshua Levy <joshua at intrinsa dot com>: "I've heard guys from Honeywell - Phoenix refer to their area as Silicon Desert, but I thought they were joking and the usage was not general."

The term is in wide use, reports Karl Hakkarainen <kh at ultranet dot com>; it tops the home page of the Arizona Software Association. But that outfit is shopping for another moniker, according to this story in the Phoenix Business Journal. The leading candidate to date is the Digital Oasis, but I won't host that Siliconium here until the ASA makes it official.



The M4 Corridor, west out of London, UK [1999?]

From Roger Day <rday at harlequin dot co dot uk>: "I've heard Silicon Ditch applied in a derogatory sense to the group of computer companies (DEC, Microsoft et al.) who've sited their shiny new boxes alongside the M4 corridor -- starting at Slough, then west including Maidenhead, Reading, Wokingham, and Bracknell. The M4 is a motorway heading west out of London towards Bristol and Wales (connecting to Cwm Silicon in Newport, the roughest place in Wales -- all those ex-steel workers)."



State of Virginia , USA [1997]

Virginia is known as The Old Dominion. The following is from a copyrighted cnet.com story written by Courtney Macavinta:

"To fatten up its allure to high-tech companies, the state legislature of the Silicon Dominion has introduced a slew of pro-Net bills since it convened on January 8."

And a TechWeb story from 1997-08-20 states that, according to the American Electronics Association,

"Virginia is the nation's ninth leading cyberstate by employment and is becoming known as Silicon Dominion. Nearly 127,000 Virginians were employed by high-tech companies in 1995."



Cambridge, England [1998]

The story In Old England, a Silicon Fen appeared on the front page of the New York Times Money & Business section for 1998-01-04. The story claimed that the term Silicon Fen was in widespread use by insiders around Cambridge, and continued, "This is no Silicon Valley. The pace here is neither frenetic nor flashy, and people frown on loud manifestations of wealth." (Note that Microsoft started up an $80M research facility in Cambridge in 1997.)



Southern California, USA [1998]

The LA Times story "In California's Silicon Freeway" begins, "Northern California's Silicon Valley is synonymous with state-of-the-art technology. Southern California's 'Silicon Freeway' is not -- yet." The newspaper has moved the story to its archives where it will cost you $1.50, and it's only 825 words long. Better you should visit Benjamin Kuo's Ventura County / Los Angeles County Line High Tech Companies List for free. Silicon Freeway was already obsolete a month after the LA Times piece ran (1998-01-06), with the grand launch of the Digital Coast moniker.



2. Seattle, Washington, USA [1997]
The overall Puget Sound area

An article in a Seattle newspaper suggests the moniker Silicon Forest for the Puget Sound region. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer article also makes feints at Silicon Valley North (claimed by Ottawa) and Telecom Valley (San Diego). Clearly the author, Warren Wilson, has never visited this page.

1. Portland, Oregon, USA [1986]
Area around Route 26, to the west

From David Taffs <dat at ebt dot com>: "The Silicon Forest is not near Seattle, but rather it is the area around Route 26 west of Portland, Oregon. Intel has a huge plant there, as do a lot of other companies. They actually manufacture semiconductors, I believe, and not just write software. I'm certain I have seen this use in print in some trade rag in the late 1980s. This usage was widely accepted in 1986, when I first came to Oregon (from Rhode Island) to work for Mentor Graphics here."

From </S=J.WALKERLIDDELL/OU1=S26L07A at mhs-fswa dot attmail dot com>: "Your original correspondent was mostly right: it's along highway 26, and encompasses much of Hillsboro and northern Beaverton. Intel has three major installations in the area, including wafer fab and a lot of designers, Sequent and Mentor Graphics are both headquartered there, Tektronix and Epson have large manufacturing plants, and of course there are the innumerable startups that spin off when people leave one of the big companies. I would agree that Silicon Forest was a term commonly used by 1986. Intel had been there since before 1980, but for years they were alone in the middle of rolling farmland and only in the last 10-12 years have other companies begun building out there with a vengeance."

On 1998-06-28 The Old Bear <oldbear at arctos dot com> wrote with word of the Silicon Forest Forum, a posting board sponsored by The Oregonian newspaper's Oregon Live site.



Eastern Australia [1994]

From Steve Welstead <welstead at nrg dot com dot au: "We registered the business name in November 1994 and are using our domain name to promote the region (most easterly point of Australia -- Byron Bay / Lismore / Ballina / Nimbin etc.). It's the lifestyle capital of Australia and famous for the surf."


[ Go to Siliconia TOC | A -- Silicon F | Silicon G -- Silicon O | Silicon P -- Z ]


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Most recently updated 2001-06-24