XLab Confab '24 logo, a stylized compas, X, and circuit boardSave the date! April 2nd and 3rd 9 am – 4 pm we will be hosting the XLab Confab , an unconference around the idea of the futures of cultural heritage informatics. The event will be hybrid, with remote participation possible. Register your interest at the form at the bottom of this page. (And if you’re interested, we’re holding a book sprint on April 4.)

Location: Richcraft Hall (River Building), 2nd floor atrium & conference rooms. Location Map Here.

Our special guest will be Dr. Ethan Watrall from Michigan State University.

An anthropological archaeologist who has worked in Canada, the United States, Egypt, and the Sudan, Ethan Watrall is Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Michigan State University.  He is Director of the Cultural Heritage Informatics Initiative, Director of the Digital Heritage Innovation Lab, and Curator of Archaeology at the Michigan State University Museum. Ethan is Head of Tangible Heritage & Archaeology Projects at Matrix: The Center for Digital Humanities & Social Sciences, where he served as Associate Director from 2009-2020.  

Ethan’s scholarship focuses on the application of digital methods and computational approaches within archaeology and heritage. This focus expresses itself broadly in three domains: (1) public and community engaged digital heritage and archaeology; (2) digital documentation and preservation of tangible heritage and archaeological materials; and (3) building capacity and communities of practice in digital heritage and archaeology. The thematic thread that binds these domains together is one of preservation and access – leveraging digital methods and computational approaches to preserve and provide access to archaeological and heritage materials, collections, knowledge, and data in order to facilitate research, advance understanding, fuel interpretation, and democratize understanding and appreciation of the past.


Day 1: Workshops on various cultural heritage informatics tools and approaches, with a focus towards small/medium heritage/collections holding institutions and projects. Workshops will be led by Dr. Ethan Watrall and members of the XLab. These workshops are eligible towards the Canadian Certificate in Digital Humanities – more info here!

Day 2: Unconference. The most interesting parts of a ‘regular’ conference tend to happen during the coffee break, when attendees gravitate to each other over shared interests and informal conversation. An unconference is a conference without the papers and presentations: all coffee break! After an address by Dr. Watrall on Building the Internment Archaeology Digital Archive – A Practical Discussion of a Community Engaged Digital Heritage Project, we will generate possible topics and a schedule on-the-spot for facilitated conversations. Sometimes folks even decide to make something there on the spot.

Day 3: Book Sprint. We are also making a call for papers for a volume on ‘Speculative Futures for Cultural Heritage Informatics’. If you’re interested, you can read the call here and pitch a chapter to us. If what you pitch seems like a good fit, we will invite you to participate on Day 3 as part of a ‘Book Sprint’.

The agenda for all three days is now available here.

Interested? Why don’t you join us – there’s no registration fee. We’d love to see you in April.

(For those who join us on the day(s), we will also ask that you be masked as much as possible, as a matter of courtesy towards some of our members.)

Funding for the XLab Confab is via Carleton’s participation in a SSHRC-funded Partnership Grant with the Computational Research in the Ancient Near East project, and a Carleton Multidisciplinary Catalyst Research Fund grant establishing the XLab.

Join Us!