Contributions to IDEA:
Kansas 2 | Kansas 3 | Missouri 1 | Missouri 4 | Missouri 5 | Missouri 6 | Missouri 7 | Missouri 8 | Missouri 9 | Missouri 10 | Oklahoma 4 | Holocaust Survivors 1 | Holocaust Survivors 3 |
Bio: A native of Overland Park, Kansas, USA, Shawn Muller was raised to love both theatre and computers. At the age of four, he began attending Camelot Academy for the Performing Arts. In that same year, he received his first computer, a 1980 IBM XT. Many of his childhood memories revolve around a mixture of days filled with rehearsals and evenings filled with computer games.
Fourteen years later, when Shawn found himself to be the second-generation of Jayhawks to attend the University of Kansas in his family (his father was the founder of the KU Karate Club and his mother was a staffer for the University Daily Kansan Newspaper), he had a difficult decision to make: Major in theatre or more practically, computers? He decided to play-it-safe and chose computers.
Over the winter break of his sophomore year, he was having dinner with his mom in Overland Park when she very suddenly asked, “You’re not happy, are you?” Although Shawn had never consciously internalized the thought, he instantly knew that she was correct. His mom went on to say, “I can’t believe these words are coming out of my mouth, but I think you should take the next semester off and then go back to school as a theatre major.” And, that’s just what Shawn did!
During the course of his theatre experience at KU, Shawn had the privilege of studying under Professor Paul Meier. When Paul received a new office computer one semester, he approached Shawn for computer tutoring. Neither of them knew it at the time, but that was the beginning of IDEA.
Paul already had the basic concept of IDEA in his mind. There had to be a way to share primary dialect recordings with the world utilizing the internet. One evening over a beer, Paul shared his thoughts with Shawn.
“You’re the computer expert, do you think it’s possible?” asked Paul.
“Sure it’s possible! There’s this new soundfile format, called “MP3”, I think it’d work for that purpose. The files would be huge, though! Probably 4 or 5 megabytes!” responded Shawn.
Shawn knew that the day was fast approaching, where MP3s would make the leap from computers to personal devices. He also knew that downloading a 5 megabyte file, while large at that time, would be considered small within a few years.
After countless discussions over games of racquetball and pints of beer, Shawn and Paul finally decided to do a “test-run” of sorts on their concept. Shawn created a small website for a play that Paul was directing, The Seagull. The site had a couple of downloadable recordings, and served as a template for the original IDEA website. That was 1997.
Shawn spent many of his college days, nights and weekends working with Paul to develop and implement IDEA. After graduating in 1999, he continued to serve as IDEA’s webmaster and technical director. In 2004-2005, he personally oversaw a major re-tooling of IDEA. In 2008, due to his busy career as a residential Realtor and new dad, Shawn decided to step down as acting Technical Director and proudly take on his new status as Webmaster Emeritus. He also continues to serve as IDEA’s Kansas Associate Editor and Holocaust Survivors Special Collections Editor.
Shawn is a full-time Residential Realtor, living in Overland Park, Kansas, USA. He’s married to Rachel Muller and has one daughter, Maya, with another child on the way. He occasionally performs at local stand-up comedy clubs and continues to do dialect/voice work.