Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Starbucks Texting

Leonora LaPeter Anton wrote an article for this past Sunday's St. Petersburg Times that shares her reflections on the usage of media devices in that famed "third place," Starbucks.

She envisions the coffee shop - and its 12,000 nodes spread worldwide - as it might be seen if we could peer further into the electromagnetic spectrum: a lightning-flashed matrix of tweets, IMs, chats, and calls. "If we could see all of this happen," she says, "places like Starbucks would glow like fireworks."

The author then cites numbers from The Wireless Association stating that Americans text 343 texts per month (almost triple the average three years ago). This average, she notes, does not account for those super-texters who make the headlines with their 35,000 monthly texts.

Here's the cool part of the story: I see this activity - particularly those SJSU students wandering the sidewalks with heads down, tapping away - and wonder: What on earth are they writing? This article offers some tasty examples, and some sad ones too.

Check it out: What's brewing at Starbucks? A peek into the subtext behind the text of our lives

Monday, March 30, 2009

Taking the Day Off

Delayed flight - overnight in strange city - lost paperwork - airline adventures galore.

I'm taking the day off!

I'll get back to blogging tomorrow...

Friday, March 27, 2009

Friday Fun Post: Manson's Motel

I have no idea whether the producer of this video actually owns the motel sign in question, but I love his commentary anyway.

Difficulty seeing this video? Try this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUDCmHOgq2E

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Ten wonderful sounds

Here are ten sounds I love to hear:

The deep sighing of my cat, Artemis, when she's napping comfortably on my lap

The echo of a concert in the park near our house on a warm summer day

The laughter of children playing in the day care center on campus

The whistle of wind on a lonely prairie alongside Route 66 in the Texas panhandle

The patter of rain against the window on a Saturday night

The buzz of conversation just before the beginning of class

The soft thuds of snow on a vast field in wintertime

The silence after a car alarm has finally been shut off

The thrumming of a UPS truck carrying a long-awaited package

The cheery hello from an old friend across a hotel lobby

What sounds are most lovely to you?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

After Deadline

Occasionally I've been known to upload a post about writing. I have no schedule for doing so; it's pretty much a whenever-thing.

Here's a link to my posts so far, collectively called Wood Writing Guide

Imagine my delight to find that the folks at The New York Times wrestle with this stuff even more than I.

Check out their blog: After Deadline

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

What does the recession look like?

The good news is that we're still calling it a recession.

The bad news is that our current economic woes are pretty depressing nonetheless.

Check out this collection of images that seem to capture the global reach of these troubling times: Scenes from a Recession

(Photograph by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Death and Life of Great American Newspapers

John Nichols & Robert W. McChesney, writing in The Nation, have published a thought-provoking analysis of the steps necessary to rebuild the Fourth Estate, which today appears to be collapsing. The authors view this collapse as a struggle for American democracy.

Nichols and McChesney lay out the dire situation faced by modern newspapers--shuttered bureaus, gutted staffs, and profit-minded focus on fluff rather than hard news (that reminds me: What has Octomom been doing lately?). We see some of the results today: major cities with no major newspapers to contribute to public life.

The authors trace this predicament to a generation preceding the internet age. They add that today's economic woes alone do not account for the struggles faced by newspapers. For these authors, the return of conglomerates, vaster and more intricate even than the Gilded Age trusts, helped doom the independent press. The result? "We are entering historically uncharted territory in America, a country that from its founding has valued the press not merely as a watchdog but as the essential nurturer of an informed citizenry."

Nichols and McChesney offer a solution that they readily admit will inspire a knee-jerk reaction by some folks: Federal subsidies. A bailout for journalists. A sort of infrastructure stimulus plan for the Fourth Estate.

Anticipating the howls from both the Left and the Right (mostly from the Right, I presume) about government interference in the free press, Nichols and McChesney note that the U.S. government has always subsidized the press in one form or another, through reduced-rate mail to revenue-enhancing public notices, not to mention the reservation of some of the electronic spectrum to the "public good." And even amid our current fiscal difficulties, enhanced support for a free press can hardly come at too dear a price, they say. What do they propose?

  • Eliminate postal rates for periodicals that make little money from advertising. "This keeps alive all sorts of magazines and journals of opinion that are being devastated by distribution costs. It is these publications that often do investigative, cutting-edge, politically provocative journalism."

  • Authorize a $200 tax credit for Americans to subscribe to daily newspapers. "This will buy time for our old media newsrooms--and for us citizens--to develop a plan to establish journalism in the digital era. We could see this evolving into a system to provide tax credits for online subscriptions as well."

  • Support funding for a decent newspaper and low-watt radio station in every American school (at or above the middle school level). "We need to get young people accustomed to producing journalism and to appreciating what differentiates good journalism from the other stuff."

  • Increase funding for public and community broadcasting. "Other democracies outspend the United States by whopping margins per capita on public media: Canada sixteen times more; Germany twenty times more; Japan forty-three times more; Britain sixty times more; Finland and Denmark seventy-five times more."

    Nichols and McChesney conclude that the total pricetag should be around $60 billion over the next three years. What do you think? Are they onto something? Or are they ignoring the inevitable?

    Read the entire article: The Death and Life of Great American Newspapers

  • March 24, 2009 update: Reuters reports that Senator Benjamin Cardin has proposed an amendment to allow newspapers to gain tax breaks by becoming non-profits - and losing their ability to make political endorsements: U.S. bill seeks to rescue faltering newspapers

    Thursday, March 19, 2009

    Walking, No Talking

    While I was waiting for the bus yesterday, I saw a guy and a girl in their early twenties walking on the sidewalk toward me. The girl was wearing heart-shaped sunglasses and the guy was wearing a slightly hip cut of jeans. From their proximity to each other, I could tell they are a couple.

    They weren't talking to each other.

    The guy was thumbing a mobile phone, sending a text. His eyes were cast downward, staring at the device. The girl occasionally looked his way but, finding a vacuum, cast her eyes to her left, upward, across the street, seeking something to catch her gaze.

    I see things like this all the time, and I want to take pictures. That's a goal of mine, to get some interesting snaps of people texting in public or interpersonal settings. I don't know why, but there's something both sad and poignant about these scenes. I want to photograph them.

    I just need to work up the courage to take that shot.

    Wednesday, March 18, 2009

    Tiny Town: Queens Museum

    Here's a follow-up to yesterday's post on tiny towns:

    After reading yesterday's post, Michael Blauvelt shared a link to Anne Barnard's New York Times article about the "tiny town" at Queens Museum of Art. For those of you who haven't visited this site, I can attest: This is the coolest tiny town in the nation. Here's a snip from Barnard's article:
    "The museum’s most famous asset is its 9,335-square-foot scale model of New York City, originally built for the 1964 World’s Fair. The Panorama of the City of New York has 895,000 structures, replicating every street, bridge and skyscraper in the five boroughs."
    The model has not been updated since 1992. So, yes, the Twin Towers still stand. But now Queens Museum has proposed a clever way to update the buildings and make a little money too. According to Barnard, the museum is allowing folks to "own" apartments for $50 and single family houses for $250. Thereafter, City College architecture students will use those funds to start updating buildings at the site.

    Tuesday, March 17, 2009

    Tiny Town: 1939-40 NYWF

    Longtime readers of this blog may recognize my interest in "tiny towns." Typically these are miniature exhibits designed for touristic or educational purpose. And now that City Ubiquitous is out, I find myself reflecting on how I might shift my research to an article or book on tiny towns.

    To that end, I thought I'd share a photograph I purchased on eBay a few years back. This image shows an unknown artist working on the Democracity exhibit at the 1939-40 New York World's Fair. Democracity was a "tiny town" depicting the world of tomorrow: 2039 [here's an artifact].

    Here you can see a garden city design, the prototype for the American suburb. You can see the optimism of central planning and geometric order. And you can witness the pleasure of tiny towns: the power to enclose the world in one god's-eye view.

    Learn More: Check out another blog post I wrote that summarizes a fine essay by Paul M. Fotsch about the 1939-40 NYWF's Futurama exhibit, with some attention paid to Democracity: Magic Motorways: Fotsch reads Futurama at the 1939-40 NYWF

    (Photographer: Dmitri Kessel)

    Monday, March 16, 2009

    Dingbat Architecture

    Updated! Scroll down for links to recent pix...

    One of the delights of living in California is the proliferation of moderne architectural styles available to the casual historian.

    The Golden State is, after all, home of the future - at least, it was.

    So there's plenty of deco and streamlined styling to be photographed around here. And for postwar buffs, lots of international style too.

    For a while now, I've been fascinated by an offshoot of the international style: Dingbat architecture. I thought I'd share an example and a little background.

    Dingbat is built for a car-centric society, designed for the automotive gaze. It's also cheap and seemingly ubiquitous in the sunbelt.

    The quintessential 50s or 60s-era dingbat is a "shoe box" building - say, an eight unit apartment built on narrow supports upon a parking area. The stucco facades are typically painted in a bland color, presenting large rectangular planes. Sometimes the doorway will be aligned with some faux-rock, suggesting a midcentury googie influence. But the building is generally pretty boring.

    That's where the dingbat comes in. A "dingbat" is a typesetting ornament - kind of like a "special character" on your keyboard. It might be a star or a check mark or a pointing finger (remember those from nineteenth century broadsides?). On paper, they're pretty small. But on a dingbat building, they're huge, large enough to fill some of that empty space. Dingbat buildings therefore include ornaments such as diamonds or amoebas or - the moderne fantasy - atomic symbols.

    Along with the the ornament, dingbat buildings often feature a name or a number, sometimes both, is some fancy script. The name provides some personality for the otherwise nondescript building, something arty like "Elysian Apts" or "Royal Arms." The number refers to street number. It's almost always a large set of digits, some set at jaunty angles. But sometimes the street number is spelled out. After all, everything is classier if it's spelled out, right?

    Los Angeles is the world capital of dingbat architecture, and I hope to set up a shoot sometime in the next few months. In the meantime, I wait for blue skies and free time to investigate the dingbat buildings closer to home.

    May 27, 2009 follow-up: Check out photos from my early-summer L.A. Dingbat Tour. I merely scratched the surface, but I managed to find some awesome examples.

    L.A. Dingbats - Part 1 (an afternoon visit to the land of Sputniks and Starbursts)

    L.A. Dingbats - Part 2 (a foggy morning visit to Tiki Apartments on Redondo Beach)

    L.A. Dingbats - Part 3 (featuring The Hauser - the most iconic Dingbat that I've seen thus far)

    January 7, 2010 follow-up: Here's an addition to the Dingbat Tour.

    L.A. Dingbats - Part 4 (more amazing Dingbats, including some goofy names)

    My Favorite Dingbat (there may be a better one, but this is tops for me)

    (Photograph by Andrew Wood - Location: 230 E. San Salvador St., San José, CA)

    Friday, March 13, 2009

    Jim Cramer: pwnd

    Last night's Daily Show face-off between earnest, angry Jon Stewart and dew-eyed, who-me? Jim Cramer was a remarkable pop culture moment. We saw both an attack on the empty euphemisms used to explain the world's financial mess and a reminder that the failures of journalists to, you know, check their sources helped produce much of this current meltdown.

    Now let's be clear: television and newspaper reporting, clinging to Woodward and Bernstein-like gravitas, is hardly dead. Even now, somewhere in Cleveland or Albany, some paunchy, ink-stained wretch is poring over musty courthouse records or transcribing scrawled notes from a deep-background interview, preparing to blow the lid off some long-hidden scandal. Our Fourth Estate will always produce meticulous hounds and dogged pursuits, thank goodness.

    But traditional journalists must give props to comedian Jon Stewart who managed to crystalize America's rage and confusion about the collapse of our financial system before upending one of its beloved cheerleaders. How? Not with mere clever commentariat posturing but with a systematic dismantling of the intellectual infrastructure that has supported a multi-trillion dollar transfer (or disintegration) of wealth from producers of things to producers of nothing.

    Jim Cramer, typically viewed as a straight-shooter and populist insider, was - in gamer parlance - pwnd by Stewart's mix of damning video evidence and live moral clarity. If you haven't seen the interview yet, you really should.

    Here's a link: Unedited Interview

    Thursday, March 12, 2009

    Exhibiting the 3G Family

    Note: This post is inspired by an original essay by Theresa Walsh Giarrusso (cited below). Her piece was published before mine, and I explore a number of themes that she first raised.

    Sprint's new "3G Family" ad celebrates the ways in which mobile phones allow us to drift off into our own little enclaves, ignoring places and people around us.

    Maybe you've seen it. The ad portrays a nuclear family walking through some sort of natural history museum, you know, with dinosaurs and lions and such. Nothing's real. Everything's a fake.

    Perhaps it's a trick of camera framing, but the group appears at first to walk closely together.

    Then we see a sideways view, the mother walking backward while aiming her camera phone at the family. They ham it up, waving at her. The little boy twirls for the camera.

    "If your family were a 3G family you could post your trip on YouTube before you even get home."

    Ah, great. Another unedited, self-absorbed, look-at-me YouTube video.

    Then the scene shifts. The mother is pointing out something on display while the father hides around a corner. Is he downloading porn? There's something creepily self-satisfied about his smile.

    "Or surprise your wife with tickets to a broadway show."

    OK. It's not porn, probably.

    The little boy is now peering into a display for a stuffed tiger. He roars at the animal before shifting his gaze onto the phone screen. Spielberg's framing a shot.

    "Email grandma a T-Rex one second and a tiger the next."

    The family hasn't visited Grandma since last Thanksgiving, or was it the one two years ago? But that's probably for the best. Grandma smells kind of funny and her "candy" is a bowl filled with tooth-shattering peppermint nubbins that have congealed into a sold mass untouched since Reagan announced Morning in America.

    Of course, the boy's sister is text-messaging the entire time, keeping her head down, tapping on those tiny keys. Something like, "OMG! IM soooo BORD!" (That's my generic example for all text messages. Sorry).

    "All at 3G speed."

    The end of the spot shows the family departing the scene. Each member is spaced further apart from each other than we saw in the establishing shot. The girl is still texting her silent frustration at being stuck with these losers and the boy appears to be left behind. He stares at the painted lions on the wall.

    The 3G family needs to ditch the phones and go to a park.

    Theresa Walsh Giarrusso's original essay: I don't want to be a 3G Family

    Wednesday, March 11, 2009

    Newspapers circling the drain

    24/7 Wall St.'s Douglas A. McIntyre shares a list of ten major newspapers likely to shut down or go all-digital by the end of the year. The list includes The Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Boston Globe, and the San Francisco Chronicle.

    Read the entire story: The 10 Most Endangered Newspapers in America

    Tuesday, March 10, 2009

    Steve Wozniak: Soul of a Dancer

    I've never watched a full episode of Dancing with the Stars, and I don't imagine I ever will. But I've long held some fascination for ubergeek Steve Wozniak, a dude whose awkward girth and scary brain has inspired a generation of wannabe hipsmart kids who just don't make time to go to the gym as much as they (ah, hell: we) should.

    That's why I had to chuckle in amazement at the discovery of yet another Wozniak talent. This guy is fearlessly willing to look foolish on the dance floor. And, oh yeah, he's pretty good. I'll say no more and simply invite you to feast upon a timeless vision, a celebration for all the nerds who never dreamed they could be this cool.

    Steve Wozniak: Dancing with the Stars

    Monday, March 9, 2009

    Immobile America

    One of the five basic components of the omnitopian framework is mobility. And yet not everyone experiences freedom of (or inclination toward) movement in the same way.

    To illustrate, I recently came across a web news item citing a Pew Social & Demographic Trends survey. Headline results? 57 percent of Americans say they have never lived outside of their current state and 37 percent report never leaving their hometown. In contract, 15 percent of Americans surveyed have lived in four or more states.

    Read More: American Mobility: Movers, Stayers, Places and Reasons

    Saturday, March 7, 2009

    Andy Watches the Watchmen

    Warning: Spoilers Ahead

    Who watched the Watchmen?

    Last night, not many.

    A few dozen folks in the audience, plenty of mobile-phone tapping, snickering teens, a handful of comic-book-guy lookalikes too, and lots of empty seats for a Friday night.

    That's a shame, because Watchmen rocks.

    I write this as a non-fanboy and as a virgin to the Alan Moore/Dave Gibbons graphic novel. I walked in having never heard of alien squids or Black Freighters. I didn't miss their absence any more than I missed all the wheels-within-wheels backstory necessarily trimmed for a hard-R 2 1/2 hour summer blockbuster.

    Despite all the hue and cry I'd followed from a distance about an unfilmable film, I left the theater with a good buzz, thinking about quantum mechanics and free will and utopia and the cost of peace. I also left with indelible images of shifting Rorschach blots and Martian timepieces and snapping bones and exploding bodies.

    Watchmen is a triumph of big ideas and hardcore action, a film worth watching again and again, if only for the myriad details inevitably missed at first glance. Like the graphic novel, it rewards careful attention to symbolism, imagery, metaphor, and nuance. This is an action-thriller-noir whose words and referents matter.

    For me, the movie does a swell job of engaging a key theme of Moore's opus, the implications of the American Dream. As the nihilistic Comedian announces: "It came true." Sure, our version of 1985 got Ronald Reagen instead of Robert Redford. And our version faced 9/11 rather than the reelection of Richard Nixon. Yet both versions suffered a psychosis with roots in Vietnam, whether by defeat or victory.

    A mirror image of opposing ideas, the American Dream revealed itself to be the culmination of all efforts to create a good place: dystopia. Watchmen tackles that thesis both delicately and with gross clarity, arguing that we lost something fundamental in the 1960s. We lost the sanity of limitations.

    In that vein, I also dug the movie's ability to examine complex questions of time and causality. If all our actions are known, stitched together into a singularity of past and future, here and there, why should we choose one direction or another? From that perspective, why should a person don a mask and save the world? Why not simply destroy it? And if we can (or must) destroy either a village or the world in order to save it, what's the difference?

    In Watchmen, the answer affirms what we've come to know in the past couple decades: superheroes hide behind their costumes and exploits, obscuring their fear, their alienation, their impotence, and their pathology. In my opinion, it's cheap to always fall back to some sexual "dysfunction" as justification for all that leather and those masks (Moore's winking "closet" language wisely excised from the film, though the Village People make an appearance). No, I view the superhero as a means to understanding the American dilemma. That is, we went a little crazy in the Cold War. Moreover, we went totally nuts as the world's "lone superpower."

    Was it wise for director Zack Snyder to shoehorn 9/11 imagery into Watchmen? I'm still figuring that one out. Imagery of the Twin Towers always stings, and its abuse verges on the pornographic. Those ghost buildings are a matter of historical accuracy in any production seeking to evoke a sense of time and place before the attacks. But the new "ground zero" at the film's conclusion -- the gaping hole, hanging flag, the sick hint that some Americans profited from mass murder -- is too facile, too clever to be accepted without a wince.

    That said, I admire Watchmen for its ambition and its balls (albeit literally in the case of Dr. Manhattan). It's not a perfect movie. And purists surely howl over a thousand slights. Let 'em. Jenny and I left our viewing and headed to a nearby Denny's. We asked questions. We compared notes. We reflected on themes. And we remembered favorite parts. Amid all the splatter and spandex, Watchmen inspired conversation and introspection. It's filled with big ideas and memorable moments.

    Most of all, it's the first movie I've seen in years that made me say, "I've got to read the book."

    Friday, March 6, 2009

    Another One Bites the Dust

    I'm trying to imagine a near-future world of newspapers, but I just can't quite do it.

    When I was a kid walking to high school, I'd regularly pass a newspaper box (whatever they're called). If I had a spare quarter, I'd buy the daily. It was part of my routine to read the editorials, check out the local news, and follow my favorite comics. As I recall, I was a real fan of Wilbur Landry's international coverage (I hope I got his name right). In class I'd invariably be asked to share sections with other students. Plenty of kids read the newspaper back then. Not half, certainly not most, but plenty did.

    These days I can't remember the last time I heard a college student refer to a newspaper article, other than one from our college paper, in class. Certainly a reasonable number of my students (not as many as I'd like, of course) educate themselves about the world around them. But, as is well known, they gravitate to differing media. Why read print when the online world is so much more convenient? Heck, I let my paper subscription lapse years ago.

    That's why I'm a little saddened but hardly surprised to learn that a major daily, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, is preparing to fire large numbers of editorialists, style writers, designers, and other folks, leaving a skeleton crew of about 20 to run an online-only version.

    According to the New York Times writer Richard Perez-Pena, "The Post-Intelligencer, with a weekday circulation of more than 100,000, would be the first large American newspaper to stop printing but continue publishing on the Internet."

    Seattle will still have its Times paper. And plenty of big-city papers continue to claw their ways through the days. We'll always have the NYT, right? But even my half-hearted nostalgia for inky fingers and overfilled recycling bins can't change the fact: We are witnessing the end of the newspaper as we've known it.

    Read the entire article (online, of course): Hearst’s Seattle Paper May Become Web-Only

    Thursday, March 5, 2009

    Omnitopia Update

    City Ubiquitous is already starting to generate buzz.

    I'm delighted to report that folks are visiting the book's website: http://www.cityubiquitous.com (where I recently added a page explaining just what the heck "omnitopia" means to me).

    And public interest has followed the appearance of City Ubiquitous in the Santa Cruz Sentinel and the San Jose Mercury News.

    One result? I've already lined up three public presentations about the book: One at Cal State East Bay, one in Mountain View, and one in Phoenix, Arizona.

    Happily, I've been invited to give three on-campus lectures as well, allowing me chances to revise and practice my multimedia presentation based on City Ubiquitous.

    Sales? Promising, so far. I'm fascinated to observe how the book flirts with popularity on Amazon's rankings, occasionally appearing for brief periods in the site's list of top 100 books dealing with urban sociology.

    My next step is to secure reviews of the book, both in scholarly journals and broader sites.

    John Coleman already posted one review that expressed a road warrior-consultant's take on omnitopia.

    And I'm hoping you'll share your thoughts as well.

    So, if you haven't had a chance to pick one up, I encourage you to visit Amazon and grab a copy of City Ubiquitous for yourself.

    Coincidentally, I just happen to have a handy tiny-fied link:


    Like the book? Please consider posting a review on Amazon. Positive word of mouth is a big deal for an academic book like mine, so your help would mean a lot.

    Sales, of course, are nice. But my real goal is for people to read the book, think about it, cite it, and respond to it. Even to argue with it.

    That's why I've created a Facebook group and a Twitter feed for the book.

    Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=44865831148 (136 members so far!)


    What if you hate City Ubiquitous? Let me know and I'll buy us some decent coffee (presuming you don't mind dropping by a diner somewhere near San José, California). You can even give me advice for doing better next time. Heck, I'll spring for scones.

    Either way, things are moving along for the omnitopia project!

    (Photograph by Andrew Wood)

    Wednesday, March 4, 2009

    What is this "facebook" thing, anyway?

    Difficulty seeing this video? Point your browser to the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFKHaFJzUb4&eurl=http://woodlandshoppersparadise.blogspot.com/&feature=player_embedded

    Worth watching the entire thing for the phrase, "a sadness - tinged with arousal."

    Tuesday, March 3, 2009

    Half the world is using a mobile phone

    A UN report states more than one half of the world's population uses mobile phones and that nearly a quarter of the population is online.

    According to Chris Tryhorn, writing in The Guardian, the site of fastest growth is Africa: "penetration has soared from just one in 50 people at the turn of the century to 28%."

    Indeed, the developing world is said to be leapfrogging older technologies that never took root in those countries, adopting wireless telephony at an extraordinary rate.

    Read the entire article: Nice talking to you ... mobile phone use passes milestone

    Monday, March 2, 2009

    How do you pronounce Silicon Valley?

    Living in the land of Apple and eBay and Google this past decade, I've long been intrigued by the diversity of pronunciations for Silicon Valley.

    By my reckoning, there are a few obvious choices: SiliCON (as in, "that dude on eBay CONned me), SiliCUN (rhymes with, "I finally got my computer to RUN") and SILikin - with emphasis on the first syllable and an ending the sounds like "Me 'n Pa are kin."

    We won't speak of SiliCONE, which is simply wrong.

    So I conducted an unscientific poll among my Facebook pals.

    SiliCON got 6 votes.

    SILikin got 3 votes.

    SiliCUN got 2 votes.

    Oh, and "Silly Con" got one vote, but that really just an example of Alabama humor.

    I understand that both CON and KIN are acceptable pronunciations (not so much for CUN, I'm afraid) but I go with KIN for three reasons:

    1. There are parallel examples. To illustrate, here's an example provided by Facebook pal Lindy Lacson: even though dragon ends with ON, it's typically pronounced DRAG-in. IN not ON. Same thing with the pronunciation of Lindy's last name, by the way.

    2. When I checked Merriam-Webster's online pronunciation, I got IN not ON. Listen for yourself.

    3. Mike Cassidy, author of the well-regarded Silicon Valley Dispatches column (San Jose Mercury News) pronounces it IN, not ON. I checked this with him during a recent chat, and he confirmed it.

    So I'm calling it. Silicon may be spelled with ON. But it's IN for the WIN.