Sunday, June 04, 2006

Founding Blogger?

Generally I steer clear of the trap other bloggers often fall into, that of posting book reviews in an attempt to pass myself off as well-read. That's because I'd much rather watch an episode of the Real World/Road Rules Challenge than read a book. Damn you Real World Austin's Wes! Your new Mohawk haircut makes you even more unlikeable, a feat I once considered impossible. Fortunately, even the Real World and Road Rules media whores hate you as much as I do and you are sure to be voted off the show soon.

But I digress.

The point of this post was supposed to be that to commemorate his 300th birthday, I've been reading Walter Isaacson's excellent biography of Benjamin Franklin. Now the folks at NIGP are all big fans of Franklin. What's not to like? He was an important founding father of our country. He was an influential scientist whose discoveries related to electricity went on to contribute to the industrial revolution of the 19th century. He was an inventor of note (bifocals, the Franklin stove). These are all things we learned in grade school, at least for those of us who went to school before the 1980's when the chapter on him in the history texts was removed to make room to add one on Paul Robeson.

However, I never knew until now that Ben Franklin was a blogger. Sure, Al Gore hadn't invented the internet yet, so Franklin had to publish on dead trees, but his 18th century methods are very familiar to those who study the 21st century medium known as the blogosphere.

In his first job, Franklin worked for a printer who published a newspaper. Knowing that the publisher would be jealous of his superior writing skills, he often submitted editorial letters using pseudonyms. Later in his career, Franklin would post a series of attacks on a rival newspaper writer with whom he disagreed. An excerpt from Isaacson:

The first two pieces were attacks on poor (Samuel) Keimer, who was serializing entries from an encyclopedia. His initial installment included, innocently enough, an entry on abortion. Franklin pounced. Using the pen names "Martha Careful" and "Celia Shortface," he wrote letters to Bradford's paper feigning shock and indignation at Keimer's offense.

In summary, Franklin published pseudonymously, made vicious attacks on newspaper writers that he didn't like, and used wedge issues to stir up sentiment against his enemies. For shame!

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Real World/Road Rules Challenge is frighteningly addictive.

I know that Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan are looking down from above, asking themselves, "Why, man, must you waste your Saturday morning watching back-to-back episodes of this show ?"

Wes is sometimes an overreactive frat boy, but he's not pretending to be "gangsta" like Tina and Coral. Speaking of Tina and Coral, they each put on a good 15 lbs. since we last saw them.

12:04 AM  
Blogger Nihilist in Golf Pants said...

Tina and Coral are two of the toughest dudes in the history of the Real World/Road Rules challenge.

9:11 AM  
Blogger Chad The Elder said...

You are to be commended for steering clear of traps that other bloggers fall into (another City Pages award perhaps?). Instead, you boldly break new ground with your reviews of movies and TV shows. Yup, no one else in the 'sphere covering that turf.

11:24 AM  

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