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Season three of Data@Rest, a podcast produced by Charlie Mewshaw and Michael Williams of UNC-Chapel Hill’s Information Security Office, was released in September.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Mewshaw and Williams recorded the podcast in the UNC School of Medicine’s state of the art recording facility. Because the pair had to record the new season at home without the assistance of an audio engineer, the production timeline has been much lengthier and the audio editing took almost three months.

When work from home policies were first enacted, the pair recorded several episodes using their iPhones.

“We also recorded three episodes at home using Zoom to show people that you can be productive with the technology available to you at home from UNC,” Mewshaw said.

After they realized that they wouldn’t have access to the recording facility for a prolonged period, Mewshaw and Williams purchased quality microphones.

“We tried a few solutions other than Zoom that were supposed to recreate the studio experience and discovered that the best audio we could get, and the platform we were most comfortable with was Zoom,” Williams said.

Shifting the creative process

Michael Williams and Charlie Mewshaw
Michael Williams and Charlie Mewshaw

But audio recording isn’t the only process that the pair had to change when producing season three. Mewshaw and Williams have tried to adjust their creative process to accommodate virtual interaction.

“We work a lot on a shared document where we dump all of our ideas at once, instead of brainstorming on a whiteboard like we used to,” Mewshaw said.

Additionally, Williams said that they both arrange the windows on their desktops so that they can only see each other, and not their own video when recording an episode.

“The way we interact and our conversation doesn’t necessarily have the same rhythm as before,” Williams said.

The show must go on

Despite obstacles that working remotely have presented, the pair still see Season 3 as a successful next step in the evolution of the Data@Rest podcast.

“In the first season, it was largely us sitting at a table and explaining things to each other. It was interesting and fun, but we didn’t really know what we wanted the character of the podcast to be yet,” Williams said.

The pair started recording at the School of Medicine in the second season. Season No. 2 also featured more guest episodes. Both Mewshaw and Williams enjoyed hosting guests and knew they wanted to continue this trend in season three.

What’s unique in season 3

“The third season is almost exclusively getting experts together to talk about different perspectives. It’s been really fascinating,” Williams said.

Micheal Williams speaks into microphone as he records podcast
Michael Williams records podcast

The third season features conversations with experts on topics like social media, biometrics and cloud security. Williams said his favorite upcoming episode is on biometrics, while Mewshaw said his is an episode that focuses on what the Information Security Office does.

“In the Information Security Office episode, we have a representative from each team in the office as a guest,” Mewshaw said. “Even though we all work together, we have different jobs, so I really enjoyed learning about my colleagues’ day-to-day.”

Giving the opportunity to learn more

Mewshaw and Williams gave an information security presentation on a Livestream to over 300 people in July, including many members of the UNC community.

“It was really gratifying to know that this is of interest to people and that we were giving them the opportunity to learn more,” Williams said.

Recently, the pair got to witness another positive impact brought from the sharing of their information security knowledge.

“We got an email from a campus group that handles secure information two weeks ago that from listening to one of our episodes they changed a solution they were going to implement to be more secure,” Williams said. “This made all of the time and editing worth it, our job is to invest our time to make University information secure.”

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