CONTINENTAL DIVIDE

SILICON VALLEY AND WASHINGTON ARE THE MUTUALLY UNCOMPREHENDING END POINTS OF HIGHWAY 50. IS THE ROAD THE ONLY TIE THAT BINDS THEM?

In Washington, Highway 50 goes along the Mall, past the National Archives, the National Gallery of Art and other grand government buildings that celebrate the permanence of the institutions they house. Across the country, just before it enters the Bay Bridge into San Francisco, Highway 50 (by now merged with Interstate 80) passes a nondescript office building where a fifth-floor suite is the temporary home of a 1995 cyberstart-up called @Large Software. @Large has about 15 employees going on 40--and, it hopes, hundreds--so it is moving soon to a larger space on the other side of the highway. If the company...

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