U101

USC is widely known for its first year seminars (University 101). We wrote the book on it. Every semester I get interviewed by a freshman for one of these and this semester was one of the more esoteric sets of questions, so here's what I wrote to this particular student.

What are your favorite things to do outside of the classroom?

The strange thing is that the work I do outside of teaching: research, filmmaking, art-making, programming... All those things are what I would be doing even I bagged groceries to pay my mortgage. So, a big part of my job also happens to be what I do for fun.

Oh, and video games. I play a lot of video games.

What inspires you?

I'm pretty easy to inspire, almost anything can touch it off for me. I guess I have some common go-to things. Bluegrass, Rock and roll, trance music, late-20th century architecture, astrophotography, modernist poetry, structuralist film, japanese food.

If you had your choice of any profession in the world what would it be?

I like doing this a lot. I do my own research as the foundation of everything, but I get a lot of energy from working with students on a regular basis... I wouldn't want to do anything that deprived me of those two sources of deep satisfaction. Then again, I like to do lots of things, so perhaps I'll brainstorm here.

Being a consultant would be fun, I'm very good at swooping in and working on organization's structural problems, so that would be a blast and a ton of money. I would love to work at the nexus of technology and education for a big change agent like Google. Those would involve a lot of travel, which I also love to do. Standup comedy would be great, but the hours are deadly. I don't think I could do that and support my family.

Wait, is the sky the limit? If success was a given, then I'd say something where I could do standup comedy, work with technology and education, do my own research, work with students, travel, and solve organizational problems all at the same time.

So that's basically the job I have now. So the the only change I'd make would be to make about 10 times the money, then I'd be all set.

Are you where you want to be in your life?

Yes. Though I'd prefer that my house had a garage.