The figure on the cover of SharePoiont 2010 Web Parts in Action is called “The Gentleman.” The illustration is taken from a French travel book, Encyclopédie des Voyages by J. G. St. Saveur, published almost 200 years ago. Travel for pleasure was a relatively new phenomenon at the time and travel guides such as this one were popular, introducing both the tourist as well as the armchair traveler to the inhabitants of other regions of the world, as well as to the regional costumes and uniforms of French soldiers, civil servants, tradesmen, merchants, and peasants.
The diversity of the drawings in the Encyclopédie des Voyages speaks vividly of the uniqueness and individuality of the world’s towns and provinces just 200 years ago. Isolated from each other, people spoke different dialects and languages. In the streets or in the countryside, it was easy to identify where they lived and what their trade or station in life was just by what they were wearing.
Dress codes have changed since then and the diversity by region, so rich at the time, has faded away. It’s now often hard to tell the inhabitant of one continent from another. Perhaps, trying to view it optimistically, we’ve traded a cultural and visual diversity for a more varied personal life. Or a more varied and interesting intellectual and technical life.
We at Manning celebrate the inventiveness, the initiative, and the fun of the computer business with book covers based on the rich diversity of regional life of two centuries ago brought back to life by the pictures from this travel guide.