How is streaming like teaching?

Today I watched a conversation between game streamers “Jorbs” and “DirtyRobot” about streaming as a career, relationship with the audience, and mental health. (Note, the video is super long (over 2 hours!) and I don’t really recommend that you watch it, unless you’re SUPER interested in these topics.

Anyway, a lot of what they were talking about their experiences with streaming made me think about my own experiences teaching at undergraduate and graduate level, specially in these last two years where 99% of my teaching went online.

I guess one thing that comes to the front is the separation between personal and public life. It is interesting that as the years passes, I feel an increasing necessity of separating between my public life and my personal life. There is a variety of reasons for that, and not all of them are obvious at first glance. For example, to protect students from the various power imbalances in our relationship, and to allow me the distance necessary to require more effort from the students when necessary. Also, even though I know it this public/private separation is necessary, I’ve come to resent it a lot. Many of the students are now just names in a list in an online content distribution system, and that cuts one of the positive feedback loops that I used to enjoy most in teaching.

Another thing they talked about was the need to hire people to work on administrative tasks that drain you away from your ability to do creative labor. Not only creative labor is highly taxing in time, the mind space necessary for administrative task is not compatible with the mind space for creative labor, and the context switch necessary between the two is expensive. This is something that I’m trying to come to terms and balance in my duties as an educator, researcher, and professor. The first two are creative endeavors, but with quite different inputs and outputs, and I could say that they compete with which other, while the third one is an administrative time sinkhole that has a way of growing and sucking out all my time for the creative tasks I should be focusing on. The ironic part is how I can usually get grants for researching, sometimes get grants for teaching, but it is so damn hard to get a grant that would allow me to use the money to hire someone to do the administrative tasks that would give me more time to do research and teaching… Although, they did have a discussion about hiring people to do things you don’t want to do, and how that is a super weird feeling that I did have myself every time I had the opportunity to pay someone to do a sub task in my work that I did not want to deal with.

Anyway, sometimes it is good to have some prompt for introspection and thinking about how you see yourself and your life.

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