A correspondent has asked why I am working so much more concentratedly now that I am at Hacker School, whereas when I was at City College or between semesters I was allowing myself to do a far greater variety of tasks, including even socializing. I worked on book projects, organized conferences and panels, helped people with various things they couldn't get done on their own, and so on. And I wrote a number of papers and reviews — even starting a major research project which I finished in six weeks in the first half of the Fall semester. None of that seems possible now — almost none — I suppose I did deliver a conference paper earlier this month and I realize that I am teaching a class. But the fact remains that almost all my time is spent on Hacker School work.
No doubt it's the environment — having peers and supervisors who are entitled to ask me at any time what I'm doing motivates me to work with greater obduracy and to exclude everything else from my attention. The motivation I feel in this environment is closer to what drives me when I am preparing to publish an article or even a book, or to submit an application essay somewhere — knowing that it will be received by other people is stimulating, while when I code alone, even when doing a school assignment, my state of mind is more like the way it is when doing research — passage of time seems to impose less pressure on me when I am not preparing to "speak" publicly with what I am composing.