Franklin’s Inspiration

“About this time I met with an odd Volume of the Spectator. It was the third. I had never before seen any of them. I bought it, read it over and over, and was much delighted with it. I thought the Writing excellent, and wish’d if possible to imitate it. With that View, I took some of the Papers, and making short Hints of the Sentiment in each Sentence, laid them by a few Days, and then without looking at the Book, try’d to compleat the Papers again, by expressing each hinted Sentiment at length and as fully as it had been express’d before, in any suitable Words, that should come to hand.” Franklin Autobiography, part 2

In this paragraph, Ben Franklin is talking about his encounter with a specific book that greatly affected him. He seemed to much enjoy this book and looked at it as a way to better his own writing by studying how this author had written. His perseverance is clearly evident and dedication to learning about written language is inspiring, especially doing so on his own.

He goes on to write: “Then I compar’d my Spectator with the Original, discover’d some of my Faults and corrected them. But I found I wanted a Stock of Words or a Readiness in recollecting and using them, which I thought I should have acquir’d before that time,”. His method of copying the text word for word is interesting and I wonder if he learned a lot through this strategy. With no one to teach him about grammar and sentence structure, this may have been the best way to learn, as long as this author knew how to do it properly. Being able to go back and review what you did wrong is also another way to learn, by learning from your mistakes.

I am always curious about how people become interested in different things. What made you want to major in that, or go down that career path, or become a member of that club? How do people define their interests? This paragraph seems to explain how Ben Franklin became interested in writing. Although he seemed to gravitate towards books from an early age (and learned to read at a very young age) this specific book seems to be the defining moment that completely dedicated him to a life of words.

I also love reading and writing and have always been surrounded by that type of atmosphere, because my mom reads a lot. I think I developed that interest from her and as I have gotten older, have deepened my passion for it. Coming to college, I joined the Gatepost and write about the Framingham State volleyball and softball teams, so my love for writing has continued on. I do not remember a defining moment, like Franklin’s here, that solidified my passion for words, but know that I enjoy it and want to continue be surrounded by them.

This paragraph is important to media and communication in general because it expresses Franklin’s initial interest in written language and how people can inspire others. This one author of the Spectator inspired a young man, who then became a prominent figure in American history because of his writing and printing abilities. And this is happening to people all over the world, all the time; someone is learning from someone else and then creating something to benefit society. This can be linked to my previous post on information asymmetry, where someone is the master above others, and in this case, inspired someone like Ben Franklin. Information asymmetry still a bad thing?

Ultimately I think it is important to trace back Franklin’s origins and see what made an impact on his life that made him into the man he became. Any prominent figure I think this is important to do, whether they made a good impact or society or not. This way, maybe people like Hitler can be studied and historian can find out what made him into such a hateful person, maybe preventing others to rise into power like he did.

Questions I like are important to discuss may be where Franklin would have ended up if he stayed dedicated to the church and if he may have made an impact on that aspect of society if he stayed with it? Also where we would be today if he did not get into the printing and communication business?

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One thought on “Franklin’s Inspiration

  1. Well said Jen. I think that looking at how people learned is an important part of the history of communication. Education so often involves conveying information, which is what communication is. So I think acknowledging the source of learning for such an important figure in the history of communications as Franklin is critical.

    Liked by 1 person

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