Ben Franklin and the Internet
Is Franklin the inventor of the Internet?
Upon reflection, I've decided that Al Gore did not invent the Internet. Since it is an evolved system there are lots of contemporaries who can take some credit. But where were the seeds of this sprawling public place where people and information and thoughts mill around in a semi-organized fashion?I’ve just finished reading Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson, and I want to nominate Benjamin Franklin as the true source of the Internet. As an inventor he was pretty preoccupied defining things like electricity, so later folk could get us computers. I’m talking concept here, not diodes, oops make that chips. Franklin conceived or developed and put into practice many of the basic aspects of the Internet.
We seem to think of networking as a new social behavior. Franklin created groups to achieve his personal goals. He formed a Junto in Philadelphia and recruited other ambitious young men to join. Their charter was to meet regularly and discuss topics of personal or social improvement. One of the understood benefits was that Junto members would help other members with problems in business and life. He saw the benefit of networking early, organized his own network and then promoted the group and his own personal agenda.
Franklin was a joiner. In Philadelphia he became a Mason, and joined the controversial Lodge of The Nine Sisters while living in Paris in his later years. When he lived in London, he joined clubs and frequented coffee houses where he worked on furthering his and the colonies agendas.
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Branding and positioning
Identity is the Holy Grail on the Internet. Be out there. Be recognized. Become a brand name. Franklin saw the gold mine in branding early on and practiced it all his life. He started defining himself publicly when he started his first business. He signed everything as Benjamin Franklin, Printer. He continued this practice throughout his life. He saw it as public statement of humility and as showing his common roots even after he was honored for his other accomplishments. He added another brand name that of Dr. Franklin. He received doctorate honors in England and began using the Doctor Franklin designation. He saw the value of image at an early age.
He recognized that his behavior affected how others saw and related to him. He drafted a list of behaviors to modify and worked on it. If he could craft a pleasing persona it would help him in life. He did; and it did.
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