In extensive research for my new historical time travel novel, Lightning Strikes the Colonies, (can be ordered at www.clfagan.com) it was interesting to learn about a man that was an incredible humanitarian, scientist, and journalist and was the first American to network world wide.
In an antiquated world with no technology, Benjamin Franklin stood alone as the first and foremost blogger and social networker.
Franklin’s editorials were printed weekly in almost every newspaper in the American colonies, much like the blogs people post today. And each day of the week for over twenty years, he penned pithy sayings in Poor Richard’s Almanac—sayings that at under a hundred and forty characters long could be easily be considered the same as tweets today. He also corresponded with over six hundred people worldwide by snail-mail on a yearly basis, more names than most people have in their entire email address book.
Benjamin Franklin also insisted on traveling with his “portable printing press,” that is if you can call a one hundred pound machine portable, because it allowed him to print articles and pamphlets about current events constantly. And in a time when people of the American colonies were so isolated that they often didn’t hear news from Europe until as much as six months after an event occurred, Ben got the news out in less than half that time, once he became Postmaster of the Colonies. With Ben’s wide network of contacts, he received newsworthy information all the time, and reported unbiased articles to inform the entire populace of what was going on.
In today’s world in which nearly everyone distrusts politicians and government, we can learn valuable lessons from the writings of this great humanitarian, scientist and journalist. This worldly entrepreneur thought in terms of global communication and created a worldwide web of social networking long before the Internet.