By Ellen Arnold Losey
Senior Graphic Designer and Webmaster, IMLS
There are a lot of important museum and library “mover and shaker” names that I hear around the IMLS Office of Communications and Government Affairs – our grantees, our partners, members of congress, etc. But I have to say, not a one of those names has stirred the same excitement in me that I felt when I heard that Ian MacKaye had been suggested as a WebWise speaker. Much like Chuck Thomas identified being a Trekkie as his original “community of interest,” for me, being an indie rock fan was a huge part of what formed me in my early years.
Ian MacKaye is best known as the front man of the DC-based band Fugazi, which made post-hardcore punk music from 1987 to 2002. The project he is currently working on that is of interest to WebWise attendees is the Fugazi Live Series, an online archive of audio recordings, photos, and ephemera such as ticket stubs and posters from Fugazi’s 15 years of performances. What makes this archive unique is its do-it-yourself mentality. The band had these recordings in a number of formats and they chose to make them available online for fans at the suggested low price of $5 per show (or on a sliding scale if you’d prefer to pay a different amount).
While the project’s story is a good one for WebWise attendees, I did find myself wondering what kind of presentation this indie rock musician would be making at our government-sponsored conference for museum and library professionals. I got a chance to meet Ian right before his presentation, and I told him about how excited I was when I found my first Fugazi concert on the site. He surprised me by recalling immediately the opening band, the size of the room, the quality of the sound, and some of the songs they played at this show, nearly two decades ago.
It struck me then and there that this man was a documentarian at heart, and a second career as an archivist was an excellent fit for him. And when he began his presentation with an assertion that “documentation cannot interfere with the moment,” it was clear that he’d captured this audience.
We had a chance to pull Ian aside for a quick interview before his presentation, and here’s what he had to say: