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Peter Thiel

Silicon Prairie — love it or loathe it?

Silicon Prairie — love it or loathe it?

"Silicon Prairie." That's how out-of-town journalists often describe Chicago's burgeoning technology scene.

It's a simple, catchy and unceremonious tag line.

I love it. Some of my colleagues loathe it.

A "valley" is something that's unpredictable and prone to swings. A prairie, meanwhile, is unflappable. Combining "Silicon," a building block of computer chips, with "Prairie," open land known for its highly fertile soil, symbolizes resiliency.

It's also more evocative than 1871, the name of Chicago's most prominent startup center. The year of the Great Chicago Fire, which spurred the city's "Great Rebuilding,"...