Word Lab

About

The Word Lab at IIHS has been set up to communicate the diverse forms of writing and knowledge production at IIHS to a wide public readership; to enable the IIHS community to write more effectively in diverse media; and to systematise a regular flow of publications and knowledge production. The Lab manages IIHS’ two central public knowledge platforms (the Knowledge Gateway as well as the IIHS Forum); produces its flagship bi-annual journal Urbanisation; curates critical readers in urban practice; organises an annual urban writing and literature festival; and creates a network of editorial and writing support as well as a culture of reading and intellectual exchange for the IIHS community.

As it grows, the Lab is focused on creating new content and forms of writing and publication that can navigate the difficulties of interdisciplinary writing that bridges the theory-praxis divide as well as to translating knowledge across linguistic boundaries by publishing fluently across multiple languages.

Publications

Through its research and practice programmes in the many disciplines that constitute urban practice, IIHS produces a vast amount of content including research papers, working papers, policy briefs, op-eds, blogs and reports. The Word Lab is at the heart of the process to fine-tune and systematise these publications, hold them to high standards of rigour, and ensure the most effective impacts of the diverse forms of writing emerging from within IIHS. We remain committed to furthering open access to knowledge where copyright rather than hinders access to knowledge. IIHS is committed to expanding legal protection to open access principles of knowledge dissemination.

We anchor the production of:

  • Urbanisation, the new bi-annual IIHS journal, co-published with Sage India.
  • Faculty articles in specialised academic journals.
  • Series-based book-length readers as curriculum material.
  • Practice based interdisciplinary cases as a part of the IIHS curriculum.
  • A repository of all IIHS-based research, practice and pedagogy based materials on the Knowledge Gateway on the IIHS website.
City Scripts

City Scripts is a series of workshops, courses and events that focuses on writings and practices that describe the various aspects of how we experience cities. Beginning with workshops and short courses on various facets of writing, City Scripts seeks to eventually create a community of writers and an archive of narratives centred around the urban.

Under the City Scripts, we organise workshops:

  • For the community at IIHS so that they can make maximum impact with their writing and publications across genres;
  • For students and scholars working in the urban and related disciplines so that they can equip themselves better for academic and technical writing; and
  • For aspiring writers who need guidance, feedback and handholding to hone their creative skills.

We also look forward to organizing the IIHS Urban Writing Literature Festival

  • The event will centre-stage books, writings, writers and commentators on cities with the intention that IIHS finds a more prominent location with a lay audience while continuing to be seen as the central hub for all things urban. The festival focus would be supplemented further and extended in interesting directions through music and film, and perhaps even a collaboration with the existing Urban Lens Festival.

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Short Courses

Workshop on Writing for Digital Media
5 – 6 June 2015 | IIHS Bangalore City Campus

Do you have your own blog but wish that you could reach your views to a wider audience? Do you feel your opinions could connect with a larger community if it were written in a more structured manner? Are you somewhat familiar with Social Media but unsure of how you can use it to your advantage? Do you aspire to see your writing on a reputed platform like Scroll.in or Kafila.org?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any or all of these questions, then this workshop is just for you.

Overview of the Workshop
The workshop will focus on writing for different electronic platforms such as Social Media, Blogs (personal blogs, institutional blogs), Op-eds and long form. It will explore how students can leverage the strengths of these platforms while also moving past the limitations of each. It will help students understand the nuances of each type of platform, and how to tailor their writing skills to write across these different registers, given the growing importance of the electronic writing space.

Over the last few years, print media juggernauts and online media houses have started moving move more concise forms of writing towards long form writing or features, and from careful reportage towards robust opinion pieces. To be published by these spaces, the submission must be well-written, well-structured and making the desired connect with the intended audience. This is all the more crucial given the growing volume of submissions that spaces receive nowadays. Sifting of content happens very early on in the process.

This form of citizen journalism not only gives everyone a voice but also provides an alternate source of income, which can be quite lucrative depending on where one is published.

Selected pieces written in this course would be featured at the IIHS Urban Lit Fest later this year and other e-platforms that IIHS is developing to engage with urban communities across India.

Sample media spaces for each type of e-writing:
Social Media: Facebook and Twitter
Blog: delhiwala.com
Opinion spaces: Scroll, Firstpost, Huffington post, Ladiesfinger, DailyO
Long form: Kafila, Caravan, motherland.com, EPW web exclusive

New Reading Publics

Our second focus is to expand IIHS’ presence to non-specialised audiences through writing in public and diverse media.

We co-ordinate, commission and help produce:

  • Newspaper articles and OpEds; e.g. the Mint-IIHS Urban India Series
  • Opinion pieces and blog posts for online media.
  • IIHS Forum – a public platform to discuss urban issues and an archive for seminal urban collections.

Creating a Reading Culture at IIHS
While much of our work seeks to take IIHS’ work to new audiences, one strong focus remains on building an internal institutional culture that is open, reflective, and vibrant.

We faciliate:

  • Reading discussion groups where seminal titles are read over time and discussed critically.
  • Writing circle where writers read each other’s works and comment on them.
  • Regular book readings by published authors.
People

Arpita Das

Arpita Das’ writings have been published in Asian Age, Hindustan Times, the Statesman, Business Standard, Mint Lounge, Biblio, OPEN Magazine, Kafila, DOMUS, Timeout Delhi, DailyO and HuffPostIndia. She has also recently become a columnist with Mail Today. In late 2014 she joined IIHS to set up its Word Lab and to systematise its publishing programme. Arpita and her team curate and conduct writing workshops aimed at writers writing across media.

Arpita joined publishing in India after completing her Masters in Islamic Studies at SOAS, University of London. She worked in various editorial positions with diverse publishing houses like HarperCollins India, Sage India and OUP India before starting her own independent publishing house called YODA PRESS in 2004.Between 2009 and 2013 Das ran an indie bookstore called Yodakin in South Delhi’s Hauz Khas Village, which became a popular hub for readings and book events in the city. Das began teaching students of the MA in Publishing programme at Ambedkar University in 2013 as Adjunct Faculty, and co-founded a self-publishing startup called AuthorsUpFront in early 2014. In the same year, YODA PRESS completed 10 years.


Nishtha Vadehra

As part of the Word Lab, Nishtha is involved in providing editorial support to academics and researchers, setting up processes for and producing the twice-yearly academic journal, Urbanisation, as well as book-length works at IIHS.

Prior to this, she has worked with Yoda Press, an independent publishing house based in Delhi. As Senior Editor and Rights Manager, she edited various academic and non-academic titles, helped oversee the book production process and managed author contracts and rights. She also occasionally helped run the Press’s bookstore, Yodakin, helping her fulfil a long-standing dream. In addition to this, she has worked as a freelance editor with several organisations like UNDP, Centre for Urban and Regional Excellence, Population Council, GIZ and UNODC, as well as with independent scholars and researchers.


Rekha Raghunathan

Articles edited by Rekha have been published in The Alternative, The Better India, The Water Channel, Women’s Web, Eclectic, RESET, ReliefWeb and Thridpole.net. Rekha also consults in the capacity of Editor with EMBARQ (World Resources Institute), an organisation that works in the space of urban transportation.

Rekha Raghunathan joined Chillibreeze Solutions as Editor and managed a team of writers who wrote on various topics including legal, medical, business and other disciplines. In 2013, she began working with India Water Portal, a programme of the NGO Arghyam. As the Portal’s first editor, she helped create style guides and guidelines to tailor content around water, sanitation and related themes to cater to a lay audience. She manages a distributed team of subject matter experts to plan topical content for the portal and is also involved in building media outreach. She has been a part of the Word Lab at IIHS since January 2015 and works with the editorial team to establish and help implement editorial processes, templates and frames across all IIHS teams for in-house publications, working papers, reports and policy briefs.


Shyamala Suresh

Shyamala’s tryst with writing started as a freelance writer with The Alternative—an online magazine striving to make sustainability a way of life. She also creates content for SWMRT (Solid Waste Management Round Table) on urban waste; is co-creating Solid Waste Management guidelines to be implemented in the city, for the BBMP; and is compiling methods and processes of urban composting, to feed into a book by the Garden City Farmers.

Shyamala started her career with INK talks in 2012. In her two years there, she worked on an internet-education based project in association with Google where she created content, led research, ran projects and documented the final prototype. She also ran the outreach program and co-developed a program for corporate executives that focused on innovation.

Shyamala has been with the Word Lab at IIHS since December 2014 where she develops and designs content for the upcoming IIHS Knowledge Gateway, and also edits IIHS in-house publications.