Apparently, New York indie cafes are cracking down on the “sprawl” of iPads, Kindles and other electronic devices, so reports the New York Times Magazine (“Table Disservice,” Feb. 11, 2011) earlier this week.

Really? OK, I get that purists might want to preserve something of the coffeehouse culture of old, but look around, and most cafes are filled with a happy mix of people socializing, eating, working or reading.

If you believe Australian Futurist Ross Dawson, the small, flat, mobile media gadgets of today are predicted to replace most, if not all, traditional print media by the year 2020. Which would mean that to read a newspaper in the coffeehouse of the not-so-distant future, you’d be browsing your tiny tablet or phone rather than flipping pages of paper. Whether you believe the prediction or not, you can check out Dawson’s newspaper extinction timeline here. Even Starbucks has jumped on the digital bandwagon with the launch last fall of its own in-store digital network, which delivers specialized content to the computers of Starbucks customers who surf for free while gulping their Trenti 30-ounce drinks.

I’ve heard of no such electronics ban from Portland’s coffee world, and in fact, my friend Rick of Silicon Florist fame blogged about his top cafe picks for techies and telecommuters in his 2009 post, “Wifi, caffeine and coworking: 10+ Portland coffee shops for meeting up with Portland’s tech types.”

A few of the Silicon Florist’s top picks (and mine) include: Albina Press, Urban Grind and John James Cafe. If the other 10 or so tech-friendly cafes on the list are like any of the others in Portland, the analog world of humans, coffee and cake will continue to co-exist just fine with their digital companions.

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