Ironically, after our class discussion about Ben Franklin as an American Icon this past Thursday, I came across an article ran in “Temple Today” about a collaboration between Temple University and Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania. The article goes on to say that the partnership aims to “spark technological innovation and entrepreneurship in Greater Philadelphia.”
I found it interesting, both in class and how it pertains to this specific examples, that Icons have numerous facets that often time are selectively used in order to brand a company or product in a specific way. In this example, using Ben Franklin’s name along with a technology start-up company, draws directly on Franklin’s prowess as an inventor and pioneer in the technological field (hand in hand with the fantastical kite story). Franklin’s name gives the new technology company credibility and should make consumers respect the innovative nature of the company.
However, what makes Ben Franklin such a good example of an icon (this is what we touched on in class), is that the there are so many aspects of Franklin’s illustrious background that are not relevant for this specific example. For instance, Franklin’s political character has no merit in the realm of science and technology. Franklin’s iconic face or aesthetic character also holds weight only in the companies logo. Franklin’s iconic nature in the United States seems to come from the public’s ability to fit specific parts of Franklin’s background into certain occupational and business initiatives. From Franklin’s example, it seems that Icons need to have a level of flexibility or fluidity that allows them to infiltrate numerous sections of mainstream America.
If you want to check out the article, the link is provided below.
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Today in class I mentioned that one concept I associate with Benjamin Franklin is “womanizer” and I decided to investigate the association.
My original understanding was that Franklin fathered somewhere around 15 illegitimate children and that he authored some misogynistic papers.
I discovered that Franklin may have been charming and popular among women, and may have slept with a few, but he only fathered three children, two of which were with his partner of 44 years, Deborah Read. Franklin and Read took in Franklin’s first (and only illegitimate) child, William, before establishing a common-law marriage and then producing two children of their own. Franklin did travel overseas a lot, and Deborah’s fear of the ocean meant that he was on many long trips without his wife, so perhaps he might have strayed, but there’s no proof.
The idea that Ben Franklin sired anywhere from 8-14 illegitimate children seems to be all over the internet, but I can’t find any source for the misconception.
As to whether Franklin was a male chauvinist: he did write a letter in which he listed eight reasons to prefer an older woman over a young one (not for marriage, but for sexual exploits). However, the context indicates to me that he may have written it tongue-in-cheek.
Here’s a link to the letter: http://www.swarthmore.edu/SocSci/bdorsey1/41docs/51-fra.html
Additionally, xkcd portrays a time-traveling electrical engineer’s first priority: to correct Benjamin Franklin’s convention regarding the labeling of electric charge.
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One of the first things I think of when I hear “Ben Franklin” is money. More specifically, $100. His name is synonymous with large amounts of cash, whether it’s rolls of 100’s, having “Benjamins,” or paying with a “Franklin.” This got me thinking as to why Ben Franklin was chosen to be on this bill over anybody else. He actually wasn’t on the bill until 1914, when the first $100 Federal Reserve Note was issued. According to the Franklin Institute (a science museum named for Ben…), his highly influential ideas on the U.S. economy and originator of the idea of the “American Dream” made him the prime candidate to be on a denomination. He was also highly involved in printing paper money in the U.S., and in turn the paper currency we still use today. Sounds like a good enough reason to have him on the most highly valued paper currency in the country today.
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