If you're a blogger, you don't have to be insatigatigable to take an interest in this headline: Blogger not liable for libelous comments. Note that the libel case was over anonymous comments on a blog site, not the blogger's own writing. See more info at Law.com. But don't go getting all nasty just to test the precedent. Who knows, the anonymous commenter may even have been the blogger's younger brother...
Which, along with the themes of anonymity, bloggers and precedents, gets me to the passage below. It could serve as the preamble to a lot of weblogs.... and inspired me to use the word "insatigatigable" in the headline (although that spelling --see footnote-- may be the invention of some scanner or typist, not the author who wrote these paragraphs under a pseudonym 285 years ago):
I HAVE from my Youth been insatigatigably studious to gain and
treasure up in my Mind all useful and desireable Knowledge, especially
such as tends to improve the Mind, and enlarge the Understanding: And as
I have found it very beneficial to me, I am not without Hopes, that
communicating my small Stock in this Manner, by Peace-meal to the
Publick, may be at least in some Measure useful.
I AM very sensible that it is impossible for me, or indeed any one
Writer to please all Readers at once, Various Persons have different
Sentiments; and that which is pleasant and delightful to one, gives
another a Disgust. He that would (in this Way of Writing) please all,
is under a Necessity to make his Themes almost as numerous as his
Letters. He must one while be marty and diverting, then more solid and
serious; one while sharp and satyrical, then (to mollify that) be
sober and religious; at one Time let the Subject be Polliticks, then
let the next Theme be Love: Thus will every one, one Time or other find
some thing agreeable to his own Fancy, and in his Turn be delighted.
ACCORDING to this Method I intend to proceed, bestowing now and then
a few gentle Reproofs on those who deserve them, not forgetting at the
same time to applaud those whose Actions merit Commendation....
(Aren't you glad most bloggers lean toward shorter sentences these days?) In case you don't recognize the made-up name, the Silence Dogood letters were submitted to the New England Courant by the editor's younger brother, who already set type and delivered the paper.
Young Ben Franklin hid his identity because, well, you know how older brothers can be. So we might count Ben as an early anonymous blogger, as well as a founding father of the Internet. (Remember that kite in the lightning storm?)
Back to the original topic of this note...
Note on insatigatigability: Many online publications say Franklin used the word "indefatigably"; at least one says "insatiably." Please don't quote any of them --or me-- in print, without a trip to the library or to a photocopy of the original document. Be insatigatigable in pursuit of the truth.
- After Franklin started his own paper in Philadelphia, he wrote An Apology for Printers, about readers blaming a publisher for something a contributor said -- not unlike that recent blog-comment libel case. (The essay includes the memorable line, "when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter.")
- Coincidentally, USHistory.org's Electric Franklin notes that elder brother James Franklin has a place in the journalism history books on his own. Not only was he publisher of one of America's first newspapers, he was one of the first Americans to be jailed for libel.