Conor Friedersdorf does his best work at coffee shops:
Put in a silent room before a blank page, it's almost impossible to write. Neither is it be ideal to work near a television set that keeps drawing one's attention or a room where a child keeps interrupting. In a coffeehouse, its rare for someone to intrude on the space of a patron with an open laptop and a look of concentration. Still, there is just enough conversation and foot traffic in the background that you're forced to semi-consciously tune it out.
I feel exactly the same way. The Dish often comes together in a Starbucks, where the bustle of caffeination helps take the edge off silence. Silence requires distraction, via Angry Birds or (my personal tic) playing around with Google Maps. Not-quite-silence stills these stirrings.