A little background

One of the nice things about a blog is the interactivity. The process of choosing what we would like to read has traditionally been subject to triage. For publishing it still is, the road being that of literary agents and publishers, article approval etc. I grew up in a Portugal where there was official govenment censorship, in the days of the dictator Salazar. It was widely known as the “Lapiz Azul”, the blue pencil. If you want to learn more about it, try:

http://www.imultimedia.pt/galeriavirtualdacensura/

The site is in Portuguese, but is very visual, with stamps, documents etc. So the freedom of reading choices made possible by the net is wonderful. Of course that allows a lot of stuff to go on which is interesting only to a few people. But that is the “long tail” of the internet, and that’s why the market is there. If you want more on the long tail, read Chris Anderson’s book or hit:

http://www.thelongtail.com/

and go on from there.

Ok, why this book? The India Road took about 1.5 years to research and write, without the net and Google Earth it would have taken more than double that. But it’s been on my mind for maybe 20 years. The navigational achievements of the Portuguese owe a lot to the prevailing ocean winds and currents, but that is scarcely mentioned, except in scholarly writings such as those of Admiral Gago Coutinho – he is famous, by the way, for the first transatlantic flight, from Lisbon to Brazil, in 1922:

http://www.marinha.pt/extra/revista/ra_mai2000/pag6.html

Portugal in the late XVth century had only 400,000 able-bodied men, and it is extraordinary that within one hundred years there were colonial settlements in West, South and East Africa, India, Southern China, Indonesia and Brazil. A lot of political skills are necessary to achieve this. So this book is an attempt to bring the daring, politics and science together. Without that mix, the whole adventure would have been impossible.

So my hope is that you will be stimulated enough to comment, and I can begin posting some chapters on here. I will preamble each with a brief note to clarify why it is there. And because this is a blog, hopefully we’ll get to talk around those, making the book an interactive experiment.

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