What if you could pick someone from the past and select them to be a blogger? Whose posts would you want to read? This is the question asked by Lorelle VanFossen on this week’s blog challenge.
The idea seemed like a lot of fun (and a good way to generate material for Focal Plane, as well). I thought about the topic for awhile, and came up with a few historical figures I’d like to read — Alexander the Great, King Arthur, and the American civil-war era photographer Mathew Brady.
I figure that most writers of yore have either already written about themselves or their writing processes, or just prefer to be recluses. I decided to look elsewhere for stories, to the people who were making history.
Brady interests me because I am a photographer, and I’ve just completed a photojournalism class. I’ve always felt a bit of a chill looking at his civil war photos, and it would be interesting to find out what Brady was thinking as he planned his shots. But, it’s the shadowy figures from the Classical Age of Greece and Rome, or the Age of Chivalry that appeal to my sense of adventure. But would any of those people make good bloggers?
It’s the shadowy figures from the Classical Age … or the Age of Chivalry that appeal to my sense of adventure. But would any of those people make good bloggers?
I decided that Alex probably was too busy conquering the world to bother putting stylus to slate, so I nixed that idea. I didn’t know if the historians had concluded whether or not King Arthur is a real figure or a legend, so that idea went down the middens. Mathew Brady would be interesting, but his darkroom work would probably have kept him from having too much time to write.
Then, it came to me. Benjamin Franklin! He’d not only be a natural — he’d also be a prolific blogger. His posts would be witty and full of common sense, not the least because they would all be posted early in the morning! He would be probably be offline by 7 p.m., though, so he could get to bed early.
Actually, Franklin would probably have several blogs. One would be the online version of Poor Richard’s Almanac, and would feature posts about business, thrift, saving, and other budget-wise topics. It would also contain a calendar, weather predictions, and astronomical information for farmers. The pages on this blog would contain a compendium of Franklin’s famous sayings.
Franklin’s second blog would detail all the juicy court gossip and intrigues during his trips abroad as a diplomat. There would be all sorts of stories from France, where Franklin served as ambassador. He apparently went about dressed in a coonskin hat and charmed the society ladies with his “frontier” dress. This blog would overshadow any of today’s society pages with tales of his diplomatic hijinks.
Benjamin Franklin would be a prolific blogger, and probably have more than one blog.
A third blog would be about American politics, and be named after his political discussion club, Junto. This blog would feature serious political discussions, although it might contain a political cartoon or two (just to get a point across) to help make the blog more visual and user-friendly. Franklin would write about the philosophy of the fledgling American republic, and actively encourage readers to comment on this blog. Lively debates would ensue and overload servers across the nation!
A fourth blog would be the online compendium of Franklin’s autobiography, which took him at least 17 years to write. That’s a lot of blogging, isn’t it? This blog could also serve as a family photo album.
And finally, Franklin would have a blog about science. This blog would feature animations and technical drawings showing how the Franklin stove, bifocal glasses, and lightning rod worked. Franklin would also definitely include YouTube video clips of his now-famous kite-flying experiment.
Well, there you have it. Franklin had a lot to write about back in his day, and if he had access to a word processor he probably would have been even more prolific a writer, if that’s at all possible. Access to blogging software and social networking sites might have involved Franklin in even more areas of pursuit, as he came across people on the internet from many more countries and walks of life. He would have been an active reader and commenter on the blogs and forums that he came upon.
But that’s all my conjecture, anyway, and I certainly don’t claim to be a historian even if I am an avid History Channel viewer. One thing that is definte — the blog challenge has not only given me a good way to spark my writing, it has helped produce the longest post I’ve written so far. I hope you enjoyed reading it.