There is something so appealing about those people who are not professional academics who pursue a particular intellectual hobby horse. One of the more well know of this type would be Keith Houston whose blog Shady Characters is all about punctuation- it's history, use and development.  It's a fascinating little niche topic that in his case spurred a multi book deal. But what I find particularly charming (romantic, odd?) about this, is that by trade he's a software developer.

This type of armchair academia brings things back to an almost medieval era of how intellectual progress was made. Not by credentialed experts, but by people toiling away in their spare time on topics that uniquely interest them.

I have recently come across another example of this, James Colton. His hobby pursuit?  Studying and writing about historical sword fighting systems. If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to use a longsword or rapier his site is worth a look. His interests are fairly diverse too, as he is also a self published horror and fantasy author who has literally created his own fantasy language for his books. Now that's a spare time intellectual hobby!


Shady Characters- [](

James Colton- [](