As has come before; many of these posts will be philosophical in nature. Some will be in contradiction to previous postings. These are not intended as truths or assertions, they’re merely thoughts…ideas. Think of this as stream of consciousness over a wide span…Please bare with us as we traverse the abstract canals of audio musings.
The lifecycle of all things seems impossible to escape. Whether it’s a piece of technology, a businesses, a global empire or a hit 90’s sitcom, everything seemingly comes to an end. While some things earn a statue or a plaque by which to be remembered, most things fade without a trace.
In a separate piece that will go up tomorrow, one of the DesigningSound.org team expressed how before joining the site, they saw DesigningSound.org as “an institution like the cable company or the McRib. It was taken for granted by me that it was always there and would always be.”.
It got me thinking about the circumstances around which this site is able to exist, and how things are often more fragile than they appear from the outside. I then considered the various things I take for granted with respect to sound, asking how things might change were their existence to cease.
It can be a fun little thought experiment that can help you define how you relate to and interact with sound, whether it’s a profession, passion or both.
As an example, consider what might change if certain tools, software or hardware were to disappear. How might you adapt? This isn’t all that uncommon so perhaps you already have some sense of this. Maybe you typically seek out similar tools to facilitate the same outcome. Or perhaps you embrace new workflows that produce a different result. Maybe there’s a tool that’s so specific in the results it provides you or the joy you get from operating it that without it, you simply would no longer carry out that process.
How about the medium? Many of us produce sound that serves as a component of a larger work whether that’s film, TV, video games, VR, AR, theatR (typo-intended for comic effect) or radio drama. What if that/those mediums fall out of favor? Would you continue to work in an increasingly niche field? Would you be willing to struggle professionally, take a hit in income or be content with fewer ears experiencing your work? Would you be driven to seek out and transition to another medium? One which you might be less passionate about but within which you can make a comparable income or reach a similar sized audience.
Consider the transition many went through when the digital realm presented itself. How would you have navigated such a significant shift? What might be the next shift of a similar or greater scale? What if we move away from speakers to some other form of sound reproduction. Or perhaps systems that take away more control from content creators and place them in the hands of computers, algorithms, AI or even an individual audience member’s own preferred sound aesthetic, perhaps deduced unconsciously based off of physiological measurements taken in real-time?
That last one might be a little “out there”, but these sorts of questions can help deduce exactly what it is you value about sound and the work you do? They can help you find your “why” and hypothetical “how”. Is it the process itself, the people you work with, the end product, the reaction you get from people? There’s no wrong answer, but I don’t think it helps to avoid asking these sometimes challenging questions. You might not always like the answers you reveal to yourself, I know I haven’t, but you’ll learn, grow and be better prepared for change when it comes. You’ll know how to react in a way that’s true to you and what you value.
So what are you taking for granted? What couldn’t you possibly imagine changing in your relationship with sound? Maybe you should ask yourself what if it were, because chances are, it will.