22nd April 2021

Information Hoarders: Keeping Tech Secrets

Information Hoarders
Susan Williams

Many of us have worked in the live event or recording industry for years, and have no issues sharing our knowledge and experiences with others. The passion that surrounds this career is what keeps us motivated and creates incredible mentors and teachers.

There is another portion of the audio engineering industry who keep their techniques to themselves with paranoid motives. They may refuse to share a technique or even explain to somebody what they’re doing because they’re afraid of that person taking their job. As an instructor, I have always been open with my students about my work, resources, and assets. If I create a show file or I show them a technique, I am doing it so that I can share knowledge with them, and then they take it and make it their own. I’m not worried that those students are going to take my job.

The competitiveness of our industry is highly present and sometimes aggressive.

Of course, you can find any number of people to fill that position who could technically have the same skill set, but that does not make a person merely disposable. When the production company makes it known they feel that way, it creates that sense of urgency and paranoia to keep your job. At times this has led me to feel replaceable or irrelevant to a show.

Information Hoarders

That mindset is toxic on both sides and can become all-consuming. I have seen people intentionally building a system or show file impossible to understand by anyone else, forcing their security in that position. They are hoarding information, possibly for reasons of self-preservation. A toxic work environment creates these situations, and being fired from them could be in your best interests in the long run. It sucks when it happens, though, especially when there’s no logical reason that you are dismissed.

We are not seamlessly replaceable, especially when you can look at your crew as humans rather than robots programmed to accomplish their tasks. I may not be special, but I’m certainly not dispensable.

My abilities to handle emergencies, intelligent problem solving, or even my willingness to help others are special skills that others may not possess. What’s more important than knowing the basics or even being a very skilled engineer is being a person that can work as part of the team. This is preferable over a condescending jerk who hovers over their work, refusing to collaborate and hoarding resources.

Information Hoarders

We are living in this amazing moment where almost everything is accessible and often free. Humanity seeks to make a connection with others, and when we’re passionate about a subject, we can’t wait to share it. Becoming a dragon-like being with a hidden cache of information and no intention of sharing it is greedy. The people who behave this way, and the people who make these creatures should be held accountable for their toxicity. I’m not sure how to do this, other than being one of the helpful and supportive resources for my students and colleagues. Access to a network of supportive people is invaluable. We’re not meant to be on our own islands; this is a collaborative business. All of us at SoundGirls are forming these little alliances in support of the greater good. Connecting our islands through sharing information and mentorship is a huge step toward progress, and I am so happy to be part of this group..

Article by SoundGirl: Susan Williams

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Another great article by SoundGirls: Networking to Your Next Position in Entertainment

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ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTOR

The mission of SoundGirls.org is to inspire and empower the next generation of women in audio. Our mission is to create a supportive community for women in audio and music production, providing the tools, knowledge, and support to further their careers. SoundGirls.Org was formed in 2013 by veteran live sound engineers Karrie Keyes and Michelle Sabolchick Pettinato and operates under the Fiscal Sponsorship of The California Women’s Music Festival, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. In 2012, Karrie and Michelle participated in the “Women of Professional Concert Sound” panel at the AES Conference in San Francisco. The panel was hosted by the Women’s Audio Mission (WAM) and moderated by WAM founder Terri Winston. Terri brought together five women working in live and broadcast audio. The groundbreaking panel (which also included Jeri Palumbo, Claudia Engelhart and Deanne Franklin), provided young women and men a glimpse into life on the road, tips and advice, and a Q & A with the panelists. More importantly though, was how incredibly powerful the experience was for the panelists. We had all been in the business for 20 years or more, yet most of us had never met before that day and within minutes we bonded like long-lost sisters. We were struck by how similar our experiences, work ethics, and passions were and wondered why our paths had never crossed and how our careers would have been different had we been there to support each other through the years. Each of us are strong on our own, but together we were even stronger and a powerful force. We were empowered. Each of us had been asked hundreds of times in our careers: Are there other women doing sound? How did you get into sound? How would a young woman go about getting into sound? Through creating SoundGirls.Org, we hope to establish a place for women working in professional audio to come for support and advice, to share our success and failures, our joys and frustrations, and for empowerment and inspiration.

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