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Life is serene on he "Silicon Canal," aka as the Lake Washington Ship Canal
Isn’t life just grand on the wonderful “Silicon Canal,” aka as the Lake Washington Ship Canal. Photo: Daniel Ramirez

We don’t live near Panama, nor do we commute by gondola.

That’s why I was left scratching my head after reading a report in StateTech magazine about emerging tech hubs that referred to Seattle as … “Silicon Canal.”

WTF. Silicon Canal?

I’ve covered the tech beat in Seattle for 15 years, and in that period you know how many times I’ve heard people utter the phrase Silicon Canal?

Zero. Zip. None.

Nonetheless, here I am reading a story about Seattle, aka Silicon Canal. The author writes:

Silicon Canal — Seattle

Seattle, which is situated on the Lake Washington Ship Canal and also referred to as the Silicon Sound, is well known for its technology companies. Amazon and Microsoft are both headquartered in Seattle, along with Starbucks, which caters to caffeinated techies with mobile payments and free Wi-Fi. The Fremont neighborhood is a niche of the Seattle tech scene and houses offices for Google, Adobe, GettyImages, Cray Supercomputers, Boeing, Nintendo and a number of smaller companies.

Wow. There are so many things off base in those three sentences, I am not even sure where to begin.

Fremont, the Center of the Universe.

First, while the Lake Washington Ship Canal certainly bisects a portion of the city, the man-made structure is by no means the defining geographic point of interest. The city is “situated” on Elliott Bay, which flows into the much larger Puget Sound, which dumps into the Pacific Ocean. (End of geography lesson).

Furthermore, in addition to no one referencing Seattle by the nickname of Silicon Canal, no one here calls it Silicon Sound, either. It’s technically a better name, but no one, thank God, uses it. Ever.

Referencing the city by either would cause Seattle geeks to laugh out loud so hard, they might spew a pint of Jolly Roger out their nose.

Now, I’ll let the reference to Microsoft being based in Seattle slide. (Technically, the company is headquartered in Redmond about 20 minutes east of downtown Seattle).

But I can’t let StateTech get away with their description of Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood — the true Center of the Universe and the new home to GeekWire. Yes, Google and Adobe have offices in Fremont, a stone’s throw from the ship canal. But Boeing’s operations are largely in Everett and Renton, nowhere near Fremont. Cray is based in downtown Seattle. Nintendo of America is located in Redmond (see earlier geography lesson) and Getty Images moved out of Fremont two years ago, leaving for the International District.

Fremont certainly is a thriving mini tech hub, but the anchor tenant is data visualization powerhouse Tableau Software.  No mention of that here.

Frankly, as I’ve noted in the past, I find the entire “Silicon _______ (insert quirky geographic feature of your city)” just plain stupid. I was always proud of the fact during the dot-com bubble days — the height of these idiotic nicknaming trends — Seattle, for the most part, stayed out of the fray.

We were (and are) Seattle. That’s good enough. Furthermore, there’s only one Silicon Valley. Period.

I am proud to be part of Seattle’s tech community, and excited about GeekWire’s new home in Fremont. I just didn’t know until today that we were lucky enough to pick a location along the Silicon Canal!

Thanks to Isaac Alexander for pointing out the StateTech piece.

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