News, notes, and observations from the James River Valley in northern South Dakota with special attention to reviewing the performance of the media--old and new. E-Mail to

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Ben Franklin wrote the style manual followed by most bloggers

I am not anti-blogger. I am anti-stupid. So, I reprint this passage from Ben Franklin, who addressed those characteristics that diminish human communication to the yowls from the dog pack and chicken flock.

Ben Franklin long ago wrote the style manual and defined the essential purpose of blogging:

  1. If possible engross the whole discourse; and when other matter fails, talk much of yourself, your education, your knowledge, your circumstances, your successes in business, your victories in disputes, your own wise sayings and observations on particular occasions, &c.&c. &c.
  2. If when you are out of breath, one of the company should seize the opportunity of saying something; watch his words, and, if possible, find somewhat either in his sentiment or expression, immediately to contradict and raise a dispute upon. Rather than fail, criticize even his grammar.
  3. If another should be saying an indisputably good thing; either give no attention to it; or interrupt him; or draw away the attention of others; or, if you can guess what he would be at, be quick and say it before him; or, if he gets it said, and you perceive the company plea's with it, own it to be a good thing, and withal remark that it had been said by Bacon, Lock, Bayle, or some other eminent writer; thus you deprive him of the reputation he might have gained by it, and gain some yourself, as you hereby show your great reading and memory.
  4. When modest men have been thus treated by you a few times, they will choose ever after to be silent in your company; then you may shine on without fear of a rival; rallying them at the same time for their dullness, which will be to you a new fund of wit.

This was published by Franklin in The Pennsylvania Gazette on November 15, 1750, under the headline:

"RULES, by the Observation of which, a Man of Wit and Learning may nevertheless make himself a disagreeable Companion."

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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States