Some years ago, on a rainy Italian morning in November, I was sitting in front of a top manager of a top consulting firm for a job interview. To the devel- oper/consultant/solution builder I was then, the Internet meant very little. I was still making a living with my Win32 and C++ skills. Yes, I had heard about something named HTTP that was widely used to browse Web pages, but I'd never considered writing such applications. At that time, I would have seriously hesitated before associating the words “Web” and “application”! To me, an application was too far serious a thing to reduce to a handful of script and markup code.

To somehow justify my salary request, I came up with a throwaway remark about the growing importance of the Internet ...

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