I’ve got a problem to solve. It’s a multi-faceted problem involving the best way to store, classify and disseminate a treasure trove of audio recordings locked away in our archives. And there is a deadline… it must be done in my active lifetime!
Here’s the challenge. I have somewhere in the vicinity of 700 hours of interviews–mostly with famous Japanese instructors–in audio cassette tape format. The earliest tape dates from 1973 when I interviewed Kenji Tomiki Sensei. The last “official” interview I recall doing was about 2004 when I spoke with Shigenobu Okumura Sensei of the Aikikai Hombu Dojo. Offhand, I probably conducted about 200 interviews with the most notable Japanese aikido teachers. I spoke with quite a few of them multiple times.
Here is a short list of some of the interviewees: Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba, Minoru Mochizuki, Gozo Shioda, Koichi Tohei, Morihiro Saito, Rinjiro Shirata, Noriaki Inoue, Kanshu Sunadomari, Kiyoshi Nakakura, Shigemi Yonekawa, Tenryu, and many more. Recognize any names? To this can be added several hours of audio of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba.
These materials are historically important because most of the instructors I captured on tape tell the true story of aikido’s birth and evolution, but now have since passed on. Their testimonies are waiting to be heard by new generations of aikidoka. Fortunately, many of these interviews were published in Japanese and English in Aiki News / Aikido Journal over the years. Still, many hours remain on cassette tapes completely unedited and unpublished.
Think about it. If there were a way to upload the majority of these materials to the new Aikido Journal Members Site, the content of the tape recordings and the voices of these famous figures could be made accessible to the entire aikido community via the Internet.
Let me try to breakdown the project into bite-size chunks.
- The Aikido Journal staff has all of the hardware, software and expertise to digitize and edit these audio tapes.
- A location to host the hundreds of hours of materials–the Aikido Journal Members Site–is already operational and has been thoroughly tested.
- Likewise, the delivery system–audio streaming–is in place and tested.
- The international aikido community is huge, and a certain percentage of practitioners would consider these historical materials worth preserving.
- Most of the tape recordings are in Japanese while our target audience consists primarily of English speakers. Would they actively support this project in sufficient numbers?
- The sheer volume of material presents logistic and financial hurdles to be overcome.
- At least one native Japanese working on a part or full-time basis would be needed to edit and prepare recordings for uploading to the Internet.
This, in a nutshell, is the scope of the project I have been mulling over for some time. Now, here are my questions for you. Please put your thinking caps on…
Do you think enough interest exists among the Aikido Journal readership to warrant the huge effort required to undertake this project?
Would you as English speakers find access to all of these Japanese-language recordings of value? (Remember we would include the English translations together with the audio where available.)
Would it be possible to energize Aikido Journal fans by using social media to magnify our presence and get enough people involved to realize the project?
Is all of this just a pipedream on my part, or is it within the realm of possibility?
I guess what I’m looking for are new ideas, and different ways of looking at the problems to be overcome. There are a lot of smart people out there, and even though I think about this stuff all the time, I’m sure there are any number of solutions I have overlooked.
Please share your input with me!