Benjamin Franklin would have been a great blogger

Speaking of his attendance at a sermon by the Reverend Whitefield.

He had a loud and clear voice, and articulated his words and sentences so perfectly, that he might be heard and understood at a great distance, especially as his auditories, however numerous, observ’d the most exact silence. He preach’d one evening from the top of the Court-house steps, which are in the middle of Market-street, and on the west side of Second-street, which crosses it at right angles.

 

Both streets were fill’d with his hearers to a considerable distance. Being among the hindmost in Market-street, I had the curiosity to learn how far he could be heard, by retiring backwards down the street towards the river; and I found his voice distinct till I came near Front-street, when some noise in that street obscur’d it. Imagining then a semi-circle, of which my distance should be the radius, and that it were fill’d with auditors, to each of whom I allow’d two square feet, I computed that he might well be heard by more than thirty thousand. This reconcil’d me to the newspaper accounts of his having preach’d to twenty-five thousand people in the fields, and to the antient histories of generals haranguing whole armies, of which I had sometimes doubted.

My favourite types of blog posts are not those that argue or pursuade or even inform, but those that share discovery. Someone comes across a problem, thinks about it and shares that process with us. It’s at the core of science, and ultimately the source of peer review – the original peer reviewers in the early scientific community were also the intended audience.

Franklin’s ponderings are of a sort ideal for blogs. A man before his time.

About Richard Tsukamasa Green

Richard Tsukamasa Green is an economist. Public employment means he can't post on policy much anymore. Also found at @RHTGreen on twitter.
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paul walter
paul walter
9 years ago

Surely this actually about Alan Jones and Rush Limbaugh.

Patrick
Patrick
9 years ago

Agree Richard – I love the curiosity of spirit and thirst for knowledge so evident in that account – for how long had he kept in mind his doubts as to the veracity of the ‘ancient histories’ until he finally came upon the opportunity to test them!

Tel
Tel
9 years ago

Franklin’s ponderings are of a sort ideal for blogs. A man before his time.

Or rather, a blog is merely a recreation of what humans already had before the wave of mass media swamped everything in its path.

George Washington’s blog is OK, he is better at pointing out the problems than identifying any solutions, but so are we all.

TimT
9 years ago

Franklin in part made his living by the regular publication of popular almanacks under pseudonyms so you could say he did partake in the ‘blogging’ of his time. (You could also say he made popular zines, if you, like me, were a bit that way inclined.)

Interested in the observation about public speaking too. Pathetic these days that you get people who feel they can’t be heard in a sparsely populated little cafe without the help of a microphone! (I observe this frequently at the poetry open mics I frequent).