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William Brafford

William Brafford grew up in North Carolina, home of the world's best barbecue, indie rock, and regional soft drinks. He just barely sustains a personal blog and "tweets" every now and then under the name @williamrandolph.

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5 Responses

  1. This is a point I think about a lot, as someone who majored in history. As anyone who took an entry-level history course in college probably knows, historians often use personal letters to flesh out the personalities of people who died long before recording technology allowed us to capture their voices and mannerisms. The stuffy old general is made human when we read loving letters sent to his daughter from the battlefront. The brilliant policy wonk of a President seems a bit less brilliant when we read his extraordinarily bad spelling in a memo to his Cabinet. Etc, etc.

    Historians of course will mourn the loss of this correspondance one day now that we rarely send real letters and delete emails as fast as we send them. But on the other hand, your point is exactly right that historians will mine the depths of the internet in exactly the same way we were taught to use archives and dusty old church records when I was in school. We may not be able to capture quite as much of the person’s personality (or maybe we will) but we will really get a good feel for the evolution of their thought. How interesting it would have been to read a blog written by a young Thomas Jefferson as he thought about the great philosophies he was reading out loud and tried to form some sort of coherent thoughts on his ideas about government. How wonderful to have read a group blog by the Founding Fathers where Adams and Hamilton devolved into a flame war on a regular basis (moderator George Washington steps in and tells them to straighten up or risk being banned for a month). Little known folks like John Dickinson would be the regular victims of dogpiles whenever he talked about trying to reconcile with Britain. Oh the possibilities…Report

  2. Avatar Jaybird says:

    “The founder of the philosophy of (to be filled in later) was a huge fan of writing himself into furry Harry Potter slashfic and upstaging the main characters in the less-racy parts of the plot (of which, thankfully, there was little). If only we had known this before building those cathedrals!”Report

  3. Avatar Chris Dierkes says:

    Title for Biography:

    A Thought Never Non-Published: The Biography of Blogger X

    If I was in a more creative mood, I’d come up with some more. Jaybird this sounds like it has you written all over it.Report

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