A few days ago while I still had some remainig vacation time, I started recording myself programming. I downloaded OBS, installed it, learned how to work it, and before I knew it I was nervously recording myself working on Esker.
I decided to try this for a few reasons, and surprisingly, none of them are about being a cool programming person ™️ (also known as CPP, not to be confused with c-plus-plus).
The super secret on top of all that, is that none of these recordings are published, just like how at the time of writing this post, this blog is unpublished (You can read more about that here.)
So, why am I doing this?
At the root of it, being put on display brings another element into the creation process. Things like improvising, humor, and most importantly (and generically), expressing my thoughts out loud become the norm. I don't get to do any of these things (at least in a performative creator<>viewer relationhip sense) when I'm puttering away, not recording.
And, even though I'm not currently publishing any of this, I'm acting as if I might. The byproduct of this is the following:
Something about recording my work as I go seems to be motivating me. I think the performative aspect of it is a new challenge, and almost creates some kind of strange psychosomatic duty to an as-of-yet imaginary viewer (which I will unironically do my duty to not resent this).
Beyond that, I love teaching, and talking about what I'm working on - unabashedly so. It's fun to riff and chat (even if it's one sided). This also ties in with pair programming, but we'll get to that in a second.
In the act of being recorded, I do not want to be too distracted. With each session, I set out a goal (or 3) for what I want to do, and then try and do them. I feel a duty to the imaginary viewer to follow through. This idea has been explored in various ways already.
Improving at pairing
Over the past six months I found myself in a job where I was getting to pair program more often. I used to think I was good at it too, and pretty quickly I realized this was not entirely true and that I needed to improve. Recording myself wasn't just for remedying the embarassment I was feeling (as I stumbled over my words and thoughts when pairing) and to improve my confidence, but also to make it easier for my pair-partner to understand my thought process.
When it comes to pairing, I'm starting to think that the sooner you can outline how you work, the sooner you can be successful. This means that both parts of the pair need to effectively communicate their processes, how they think, and importantly, take turns driving.
And finally, I think it's pretty important to let people know what you do and do not know. Currently, these streams are me working in rust, so a lot of the time I feel like I'm saying "I don't know" - and it's starting to feel fun and liberating.
There's no doubt that I have my share of fears about publishing this content. I have no expectations that people will watch it, and I often catch myself putting myself down in the videos about how what I'm working on isn't interesting, or that people with more knowledge about rust would find it painful to watch me stumble along. But, I want to live a life where I'm not afraid of things like that, so onward I shall go, trying new things.