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Thirteen ways of seeing: Building varying digital narratives from interconnected science archives

Over the past decade, there have been many efforts to streamline the accessibility of archival material on the web. This includes display of oral history interviews and archival records, and making their  content more amenable to searches. Science archives wrestle with the  challenge of not just putting out the data, but of building spaces  where historians, journalists, the scientific community and the  general public can see stories emerging from the linking of seemingly  disparate records.Through this work in progress, this project offers the conceptual framework for an online public history exhibit that builds multiple narratives from raw archival data. Such a digital exhibit allows us to pulls material from a variety of primary and secondary sources into coherent stories, and connect personal stories to established records of a scientific process.The National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) digital is a pilot project built around thirteen ways to reflect upon and assemble the history of the Bangalore-based institution (the exhibit title pays homage to Wallace Stevens' poem, Thirteen Ways of Looking  at a Blackbird).  The exhibit tries to bring to light multiple interpretations of the NCBS, weaved by the voices of over 70 story tellers. The material for the  exhibit is curated from records collected to build the Centre's  archive. The oral history excerpts, along with over 600 photographs, official records, letters, and the occasional lab note, give a glimpse into the Centre's history and show connections with the present.The exhibit is the first phase of a digital experiment in journalism and story telling, centered around archival materials.Venkat Srinivasan is a visiting researcher at the National Centre for  Biological Sciences in Bangalore, India ( He  joined NCBS in May 2016 to work on features of its archive.  Prior to this, he was a research engineer at the SLAC National  Accelerator Laboratory at Stanford University where he worked with a  team that builds optical devices at the institute’s Linac Coherent  Light Source ( He is also an independent science writer, with work in The Atlantic and  Scientific American online, Nautilus, Aeon, Wired, and the Caravan.



Thursday, March 9, 2017. 02:15 AM


Wallenberg 4th Floor, Room 433A


Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis (CESTA)




Free and open to the public.