A Little Knowledge

They say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, and on many of the subjects I'm talking about on this blog, I'm attempting to gain just a little knowledge. But, I think that most people would agree that the reason a little knowledge is dangerous is because people tend to think they know more than they really do. Since I work in history, I already strive to pay attention to the limits of what I know and what I can find out. Readers, I'm inviting you to help keep me honest -- feel free to let me know any time I extrapolate too far from the little knowledge I have on any subject I blog about.

Speaking of knowledge, I have a question for my readers: are people other than bots using the audio versions of posts? If you are, let me know, and I'll keep doing them! If not, I may put the audio versions on the back burner for a while and call it an experiment that successfully gave me some data.
  • Learn some American Sign Language. I am drawn to ASL in part because it's a language native to my country but I only know a few words. I make no pretense that I'll be able to converse with fluent speakers a after a course or two -- it took me years to learn a second language and I don't know if I am committed to a third -- but I'd like to learn a little.
In the comic, a barista in an apron signs "milk," "food," and "potty" while pointing. Desmond replies, "let me guess, you're a new father who's learning baby signs?" The barista says, "How'd he know that?" and his coworker replies "Well, you told a grown man where the potty was."
The brilliant comic That Deaf Guy by Matt and Kay Daigle -- www.thatdeafguy.com

  • Read A History of Archaeological Thought by Bruce G. Trigger. I was with my friend Laura H., an archaeologist and educator, when I considered picking this book up, and she told me I should go for it because it's one of the essential introductions to the field. So, I'm crediting her with having suggested it to the blog!
  • Read From Stonehenge to Las Vegas: Archaeology in Popular Culture by Cornelius Holtorf. This book seems to be about public archaeology, in the sense of how archaeology is consumed and perceived. I love fields that are related to public history-- in fact, I very nearly did my graduate work in Brown's Public Humanities program. 
  • Try out a sport that was either much more popular at least a few generations ago, or had a different set of rules at least a few generations ago.
  • Kara S. suggested, "Read The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, a 1985 dystopian novel that specifically depicts a 2nd wave feminist dystopia. A great way of understanding what second wave feminist thought specifically feared and valued -- it illustrates a different angle of second wave feminism than is typically seen by reviewing nonfiction."
  • Sit in on a college sociology course. I have been exposed to a lot of the ideas of sociology but not in a formal way. I think it would be fun to sample learning it more formally in an environment where many of the people are encountering sociological thinking for the first time.
  • Interview some people of a different generation about how they learned history. I think this would provide inside insight into what has worked for people and what hasn't.
  • Buy something inexpensive and unfamiliar from an antique store and research its story. I have a bit of background in researching material culture, but I have never just found an object I don't know a thing about and looked into it.
  • Do an architecture coloring book. It seems like it would be a fun way to learn to recognize architectural styles, and from the tiny bit of architectural information I know, I've gathered that looking at buildings is a fun way to spot the marks of different periods of history in a city.