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Ben Franklin’s Rules of Twitter

June 24, 2009

When he was a young printer, Benjamin Franklin formed a private forum called The Junto for discussion, brainstorming and the occasional sharing of essays.  In Franklin’s words, its discussion were “to be conducted in the sincere spirit of inquiry after truth, without fondness for dispute or desire of victory . . .”

An abridged list of the questions which Franklin drew up to guide the Junto’s discussions included:

  • Have you met with any thing in the author you last read, remarkable, or suitable to be communicated to the Junto? . . .
  • Have you lately heard of any citizen’s thriving well, and by what means?
  • Do you know of any fellow citizen, who has lately done a worthy action, deserving praise and imitation?
  • Do you think of any thing at present, in which the Junto may be serviceable to mankind? to their country, to their friends, or to themselves?
  • Hath any deserving stranger arrived in town since last meeting?
  • Do you know of any deserving young beginner lately set up, whom it lies in the power of the Junto any way to encourage?
  • Have you lately observed any defect in the laws, of which it would be proper to move the legislature an amendment? Or do you know of any beneficial law that is wanting?
  • Have you lately observed any encroachment on the just liberties of the people?
  • In what manner can the Junto, or any of them, assist you in any of your honourable designs?
  • Have you any weighty affair in hand, in which you think the advice of the Junto may be of service?
  • Do you see any thing amiss in the present customs or proceedings of the Junto, which might be amended?

Switch out “Twitter” for “Junto” and it’s kind of startling. I suspect that even if a consumer twitter account becomes the pet rock of social media–everyone has one, no one knows what to do with it–I think this essentially b2b use will endure.

Inspired by my reading of Walter Isaacson’s engrossing biography of Franklin.

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