If you’ve been following our efforts for the last nine or so months, you will realize that we have been building a new base on which to preserve and disseminate the vast store of documentation we have accumulated during 40 years of research and publication. We have the Aikido Journal Members Site in place. We have opened a dojo directory recently. Then, just the other day we have launched our new store which focuses on downloadable products, something readers have long requested.
It is in connection with the “Store” site that I would like to get your opinions about a matter that has long concerned me. Basically, in our photo collection we have somewhere between 100,000 and 200,000 thousand images… maybe more. It would take literally weeks to count everything! Of course over the years, we have published thousands of photos in the old Aiki News / Aikido Journal magazines, and more recently on our succession of websites.
Consider the dilemma… The printed medium–unless one is a large organization with ample means– is a poor one for reproducing photographs. Likewise, webmasters are always looking to compress images to save space for rapid loading of data, often to the great detriment of image quality. Thus, the two main media normally relied on to reproduce photos offer little when one thinks of the long-term preservation of high-quality photographic images.
As with almost everything else these days, along comes the Internet to the rescue! Since we now have the platform of the Members Site, we can also offer photo downloads–just like we do for ebooks and videos–that are of very high resolution, that one could take to a printing service and blow up to a large size and still have excellent quality. That would be one way of solving the problem of preserving and disseminating these important historical documents.
Another way of proceding would be to produce ebooks, something like coffee-table books, in PDF format. These would feature the most historically important photos along with explanations concerning their significance. Although the resolution of photos in this format would be higher than those used on websites, it would not equal those offered specifically for printing and display.
At this point, I have an observation to make about the interiors of dojos in general. Over the years, I have seen some lovely dojo setups that created a wonderful atmosphere for training. Often, plants, hanging scrolls, and other elements have been used to create a specific look. Most dojos have a few photos as well, starting with the shomen photo which usually features Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei. A few of these schools have made very good use of photos to give the dojo interior an attractive and welcoming feeling.
Since it is not a terribly expensive thing to do and can produce a strong psychological impact, I’ve often wondered why more dojos haven’t created photo displays. Think of what some restaurants have done with photos expressing a particular theme to enhance their interiors. Certainly, you have seen such establishments.
In closing, I wanted to get your ideas on how to go about offering high-quality photos to the greater aikido community. This would serve the dual purpose of improving dojo interiors, and the preservation of especially important images for generations to come.
Please weigh in with your comments.