Benshi is the Japanese tradition of using live narrators to accompany silent films. Kyoko Omori, Associate Professor of East Asian Languages and Literatures at Hamilton College, has assembled a large collection of video, text, and still image files that illuminate this tradition. She collaborates with scholars in institutions across the United States and also in Japan, but it can be difficult for several people working in different cities to keep track of who has done what to which file. Omori has high hopes that DuraCloud will do a lot to solve these problems.
“We want to combine a cloud repository with software services to allow for collaborative development,” says Janet Simons, who co-directs Hamilton's Digital Humanities Initiative with Professor Angel David Nieves. DuraCloud’s tools fit the bill because they give multiple access points for streaming, viewing, uploading, and downloading files in a variety of formats. Someone at Occidental College in Southern California might add an audio file of commentary for one of Omori’s videos; a few hours later, another scholar at Wasada College in Japan might upload several still images of theater posters of Benshi artists or their file narratives to illustrate and build upon the commentary. Because everything is stored on the cloud and is automatically updated, Omori and her remote collaborators will be able to work together in ways that foster dynamic digital scholarship.