Did Benjamin Franklin Invent Blogging?

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Did you know that using Foursquare can make you just like the founding fathers? The Wall Street Journal's Zachary Seward, in an article about the delights of social broadcasting tools such as Foursquare, draws a straight line between his hobby and the daily life of Benjamin Franklin.

Lifelogging has been around since at least Benjamin Franklin, but digital technology transformed the practice, allowing obsessive types to record, store and visualize every detail of their lives, from sleep cycles to eating habits. The goal? Ultimate self-awareness and reflection. "We've arrived at a time when the memory of machines creates ideas we've never considered," Clive Thompson declared in a cover story about lifelogging for Fast Company in 2006.

If you're curious, Seward's evidence is a link to this chart, in which Franklin has divided his average day into six rough categories. Perhaps it's a bit of a stretch that this constitutes actual, 18th-century status updates.

So maybe Seward, in his love of social broadcasting, has gotten a little carried away. But why shouldn't he be excited? By "checking in" on Foursquare "1,491 times over the course of the year," and then parsing the data in colorful charts, he was able to deduce invaluable nuggets like this one:

I'm white, and I'm much more likely to travel down the largely white Upper West Side than across areas of Harlem with higher densities of African Americans.

How could he have possibly accrued this kind of deep self-knowledge without the magic of Foursquare every few hours? He couldn't. Thank goodness for lifelogging and blogging and Benjamin Franklin.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.