I don’t know about you, but as I get older, there’s more stuff, every year, on my list of things I wish I knew more about. Sometimes, it’s a course I wish I had taken in school, or some area I just wish I understood better, because the holes in my knowledge base bother me. So I thought I would do a quick blog post about the ten things I wish I knew more about, with the subtle wish people would point me in directions so I can fill my knowledge base, or at least meet more people who were willing to teach me more about these things.
Top Ten Things I Wish I Knew More About:
1. Coding. I wish I knew more about this, rather than only understanding some basic HTML. I posted this to twitter earlier this fall, and some people directed me to this site which gives you a great 15 minute tutoring in Ruby. This was awesome and fun. But what are the next steps? I want to know more about this so when I am thinking about my website or helping other people think about theirs, I have a better sense of what’s possible- I want to “get it” and not be frustrated. I want to “talk with the developers” like Dr. Doolittle spoke with the animals (you can tell I’m a Mom who has kids who think these sorts of old Disney movies are cool) and not feel hopelessly ignorant and shallow.
2. Xcode and Cocoa– I attended a great session at Barcamp Philly about piecing together easy iphone apps, and I wish I knew more about Cocoa and how to do this. The session was pretty quickly way over my head, and I had to leave before my brain exploded. I felt dumb, so I want to fill this gap as well.
3. Investments and Financial Analysis-I’m very conservative financially, and generally hate debt. I have a very simple and clean balance sheet, and I am not a beginner in finance, but I wish my eyes didn’t glaze over so quickly when I read a company’s annual report and had a better sense of what metrics were most important.
4. Shorting Stocks: I get buying and selling stocks. I don’t get why shorting stocks- essentially borrowing shares at one price and then actually buying them at a lower price and then pocketing the difference works, and why this kind of floating craps game is legal, because it seems really ethically weird to me. I need to know more about this.
5. Educational Pedagogy: With my podcast, I talk frequently to educators, and sometimes, I feel I don’t fully understand their mindset. Sometimes it seems rigid and sometimes totally out of step with basic social and developmental psychology. I wish I understood more about what pedagogy really was, and whether the questions I have about our education system are crazy, simply because I don’t have a masters in education and haven’t had the “proper” training.
6. Mirror Neurons: This whole concept of the mirror neuron system fascinates me. It’s a set of “wires” in the brain that allow us not only to anticipate the near future, but it allows our brains to mimic the actions we see other people doing, without actually doing them ourselves. It’s also closely tied into the limbic system. I think mirror neurons have a lot to teach us about marketing (You need to read Martin Lindstrom’s book Buyology, if you haven’t already) as well as autism- There’s some speculation that the mirror neuron system may be malfunctioning in kids with autism spectrum disorders, and I would be interested to see whether or not the problem may not be with the system as much as the interconnections with other areas in the brain.
7. Social Anthropology– It’s interesting, but I think the next decade is going to be about the mixing of verticals. Much like red wine can be more interesting when it’s a blend, say a cabernet-merlot, rather than one or the other, I think the overlap of fields like sociology and anthropology will lead to more and more insights about people and why we function in groups the way we do. I only took 2 sociology courses and one anthropology course while in college, and I wish I took more. Anyone have any good books on the topic i should read?
8. Statistics- I can read and parse most statistics, having taken a grad level course in this while in school. However, statistics for the web and statistics for the sciences are not exactly the same thing. I want to know more both about how I should be looking at my web stats to predict how to alter the site or produce content to meet needs, as well as how to relate the world of online stats to the world of science stats, so as these fields begin to interplay more and more, everyone is speaking the same, not a divergent language. I am reading Web Analytics in an Hour a Day, but I’m hoping to have a better sense by this time next year what those numbers really communicate to us in a larger picture.
9. How to teach writing and grammar to kids who struggle: I have kids who have both poor handwriting and poor composition skills. Schools, on the whole, don’t teach writing as a basic skill- they have students write across the curriculum, but without any basic instruction on what really constitutes a great sentence versus a poor one; how to listen to your inner voice, and then craft that for the reader. This is important because more and more communication will continue to happen through the web, and since most of it is text-based, people’s first impression of you will come through the written word, not through voice or an in person meeting. Being able to write well will become an increasingly critical skill to have, and we have to make sure all kids have a good grasp on how to communicate their valuable ideas to others.
10. Time Management and Organization– As someone with ADHD, this is something I struggle with. I can do organization when it is absolutely necessary, but I have a harder time staying organized all the time, not just in fits and starts. I’ve tried tons of systems, but part of ADHD is also using your environment as part of your working memory, so I have tons of post-its and lists that keep me on track. I’d like it if I felt more together daily, rather than together biweekly, after I do a purge. (It’s better than when it used to be a quarterly or biannual purge…) I am always looking for the magic solution, so if you have any that really work for you, please share. Right now, I depend heavily on the alarm feature on the iphone, but I also need systems or tips that would help keep 10 & 13 year old boys more organized, so they do not inherit my personal demons.
There’s tons more I am interested in- things that I find fascinating, but this covers a bunch of the stuff I consider holes in my knowledge, and things I want to learn more about. I would love it if you could share resources, or post the 10 things you wish you knew more about on your blogs, so we can all start to help each other out and fill each others gaps.