Ratiocination means “the proposition arrived at by logical reasoning” or “the process of exact thinking” or “a reasoned train of thought”. WordBowl Word of the Day provided by the blogging force behind One of Thirty Voices.



Logisticians, engineers, mathematicians: the original Silicon Valley pioneers staked their claim, threw up low-slung form-follows-function offices to house servers and people alike, charged with improving processor speed or the next leap in enterprise software.

 Problem solvers.

BRAVA ROYALE and "ratiocination" at Dream Baby Bar

BRAVA ROYALE and writing at Dream Baby Bar

The goal to increase worker productivity — engineers were “workers” before a new nomenclature transformed them into “team members” — approached with equal rigor. Logical, for a company to provide lunch. Eliminate the need to leave. Encourage employees to eat in front of their monitors. Or, least-optimal scenario, mingle with co-workers in the cafeteria. Next came the on-premise gym, to improve physical stamina for the all-nighters prior to product ship dates. Fully stocked kitchens for sustenance to code. Drop off dry cleaning service arrived. The HR perks matriculated into foosball tables, weekly Beer Bashes, Aeron chairs, the Friday roving cart stocked with wine, flowers, chocolates for last minute dinner party hostess gifts, dates, wifely apologies.

Everyone knew someone who knew someone at a company providing weekly in-office massages.

Business boomed, buildings begat “campuses”, the new seats of higher learning, temples of knowledge. Gave rise to a defining school of interior design, bold, bright, whimsical replacing vast seas of oatmeal cubicles.

Wall Street missed the first few, West Coast IPO blips. Then Netscape, and the overnight Silicon Billionaires. Wall Street would not miss again.

Margarita + Chopped Chilies = logical pairing at El Toro Blanco

Margarita + Chopped Chilies = logical pairing at El Toro Blanco

The marketeers arrived en masse. They extolled paradigm shifts and first-to-market strategies, touted page view rankings, tracked eyeballs as obsessively as their own stock options, referenced Marc Andreesson or Jim Barksdale or Kleiner Perkins as casually as film producers mentioning celebrity talent attachments. They registered the domain names of every thought that popped into their heads, issued press releases like trial balloons. Launch parties became an Olympics-worthy competitive sport.

The marketeers, they mastered virtuoso techno-marketing spoken word performances designed to dazzle, distract, Do Not Look at the Man Behind the Curtain. The unspoken, pervasive, Cardinal Rule: Do Not Ask (Ever, Ever) “But What Does It/You/They Actually Do? Because you either Got It, thus proclaiming you crossed the threshold of this awesomely unprecedented transformative era of perpetual innovation and prosperity, or you were dismissed as roadkill along the Information Superhighway.

Money, actual money, positive P&L, rendered meaningless, superfluous in this New Economy, the Tech Economy, the Venture Capital Economy, the Wall Street Economy, this universe in which valuation was king.

Up, up, up, as if it were the only direction. The biggest Series A, the highest-profile acquisition, the most successful IPO — was toppled by the next. Expectations defied logic.



For every Netscape or eBay or Google there came an array of spectacular flameouts: TheGlobe.comPseudo.comBoo.comFlooz.com. The laws of gravity applied. What goes up, most often, does come down. Buildings in San Francisco and Silicon Alley abandoned, bright-colored signage defaced with graffiti, empty Aeron chairs lined up like sentries.

Still, the entrepreneurs come, as do the VCs and the Wall Streeters casting about for the Next Big Thing, placing bets before the next spin of the wheel, visions of IPO glory dancing in their eyes.

Handwriting about IPOs and tech bubbles, I thought of heading down to Wall Street for a little thematic cocktailing, but stumbled across El Toro Blanco (“the white bull”) in the West Village, and Dream Baby Bar in the East village, both of which struck as metaphorically appropriate.  

Caffeinated fuel was in the form of “Alphabet City Blend” from Ninth Street Espresso in the East Village.

Caffeine Confusion: 9th Street Espresso, located on 10th Street.

Caffeine Confusion: 9th Street Espresso, located on 10th Street.


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WordBowl Word-of-the-Day provided by Jenny B

   children’s literature advocate, writer, reviewer, educator, chanteuse



1994, Los Angeles — A friendly freelance writer/IT consultant (and future dotcom entrepreneur) offered to show me his computer lab, introduce me to Mosaic the thing that could change everything.

We weaved through Malibu on his bike, my thighs gripping his, ocean crashing to one side, craggy cliffs on the other, words whipped away by wind. Arrived at UCLA, walked through hushed halls, crossed the threshold to humming terminals, sat before a massive monitor. He clicked keys like a conjurer invoking spells, I peered over his shoulder, breathless. He grasped my hand, cautioned patience. We waited, bantered, debated, the mechanical whir of computer equipment morphed into music. We waited. The screen swirled.

aptly-monikered SOCIAL SMOKER cocktail (with smoked mescal float) at Ella's

aptly-monikered SOCIAL SMOKER cocktail (topped with a smoked Mezcal float) at Ella’s

We waited. I shivered, he pulled me onto his lap, wrapped arms around me, we nuzzled as the day’s surf reports appeared onscreen. I attempted to wrap my head around this as we wrapped ourselves around each other, wrap my head around the concept of any necessary or useful or desired information called forth with a few key strokes, and said, well if this thing speeds up, there might be something cool here, and he laughed, and we kissed again, so to me, the Internet was, is, a little sexy.

We West Coast media denizens, entranced by publishing and broadcasting possibilities, embraced the Internet Age. Our Brave New World.

We digital pioneers reveled in our e.mail addresses and 1200 baud modems and the dial-up screech in the background of our calls to the other coast. We evangelized, staked web turf claims, lugged laptops.

And then, Netscape IPO’d. Wall Street awoke, roared.

Ella's jazz-meets-hiphop-meets-piano bar, east village

Ella Lounge, east village, nyc

We attended meeting after meeting, meetings run by fresh-faced guys sporting khakis and not-quite button-downs a particular shade of blue between baby and royal, or presided over by former hippies who caught the tech wave early and rode it to excessive success. They pronounced, with the all-knowingness of prophets, “Portals are the new television networks,” espoused “paradigm shifts”, asserted “first mover status”.

“Game Changer” became as standard an opening salvo as “Hello”.

“Information wants to be free” they cried, dancing for money, venture capitalists. We media-makers did not yet know to do more than shudder.  “The totality of human expression at our fingertips”, and we did not yet know to fear for our jobs.

CLARK GABLE cocktail at east village jazz joint Ella's

CLARK GABLE cocktail at east village jazz joint Ella

The Bay Area teemed. From all over the country they came — the newly-graduated, the disenfranchised traditional media folks, mid-level management types casting for future financial independence, Baby Boomer executives making one last leap for career glory — people headed West, a late 20th century Gold Rush of bits and bytes and options.

The Internet steamrolled, indiscriminate. E.mail smashed USPS to governmental rubble. Long distance phone call pricing evaporated.  Periodicals and newspapers trumped by perpetual publishing. Music retailing gutted, television viewing fractured. Books priced less than paper. Engineering casual wear trounced corporate dress. Culture reduced to “content”. Roadkill along the Information Superhighway.

“Content is King!”, but the Internet Rules All.

“juggernaut” scribbled at the “Heyday of Hollywood”-evoking piano bar & jazz club  Ella Lounge     east village, nyc

caffeinated assist from west village staplesNice (which it is!)

'sNice, west village, nyc

‘sNice, west village, nyc