My Opening Remarks for HeritageJam 2021

After I remembered to unmute my mic (d’oh) this is what I said…

Welcome to HeritageJam 2021! This is the fourth iteration of the jam, and the first to be located outside of the UK, if you will accept that my basement office where I am now sitting constitutes the location of the jam. I’m Shawn Graham, and I’m at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. My colleagues on the Jam are Sierra McKinney and Katherine Cook, from the University of Montreal, and Stuart Eve from Bournemouth University and L.P. Archaeology, and I am so grateful that they are on board for this mad enterprise! This jam would not be possible without funding from Carleton University and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

I want to begin by acknowledging that where I live and work is on the unceded traditional lands of Algonquin Anishnaabeg. It is customary now at Carleton to begin events by making that land acknowledgement; but it seems to me that too often we just then continue on to do what we were going to do anyway. So one of my goals for this year’s Heritagejam is that we keep that land acknowledgement uppermost in our minds as we craft, create, and explore. The theme for this year’s HeritageJam is ‘sensation’, so one way to think about that theme is in the context of the land or territory you are in or on whose territory your work depends. What sensations in us, or in the public, should a land acknowledgement generate? How can we make that acknowledgement meaningful wherever we are, and however we might interpret ‘sensation?’ Sensations can be troubling; they can be enchanting. Perhaps we encounter sensations when we are confronted by eruptions of deep time in the present: how can we convey that sensation?

Today you will have an opportunity to meet the entire HeritageJam team, to hear more about how the Jam will unfold, gain inspiration and encouragement from past examples of work, and to meet other jammers with whom you are welcome to collaborate. I have participated in each iteration of the Jam, and what excited me then – and continues to excite me now – is that this opportunity to be wholly creative for the sake of thinking differently about heritage refreshes me; it re-invigorates me and reminds me that there are so many ways other than essays, articles, and monographs to engage the past. Each time I’ve participated in the jam, it has redirected me into new avenues that simply enrich my daily life.

This is the first edition of the Heritagejam that is completely virtual. In years past, there has been an in-person two day event where folks would come together, break into teams, and over the course of the two days make something – sometimes, it was completely fully-formed; othertimes, it was more like a design or prototype. There was always a virtual component where people working remotely could produce something in the month leading up to the in-person jam

I’m going to share my screen now. Here’s the 2014 jam, the first of its name. One of my favourite entries is this comic, by Nela Scholma-Mason; as you explore the entries, take a look at each entry’s paradata document. If data are things we study/use, and metadata describe the data, then paradata describe our process. Scholma-Mason’s paradata is a wonderful piece of zine making in itself! Another favourite of mine from the first jam is ‘Buried’, by Tara Copplestone and Luke Botham, a piece of interactive literature made with the Twine text game engine.  (‘Buried’ is available on the Internet Archive at

In the 2015 jam, take a look at Jens Nortoff’s sketch. It’s a quick thing he put together while out in the field; Heritagejam entries don’t have to be ‘digital’. In the 2017 jam Andrew Reinhard invented a deck builder game around the archaeological idea of ‘assemblage’.

So you can do just about anything you set your mind to; it is entirely ok and appropriate to submit a _design_ idea, a mock up, a wireframe, a powerpoint that uses found imagery to give us an idea of what you have in mind. Just take a look at the rules page, and get in touch with us. EVERY entry must include a paradata document. We follow the London Charter which calls paradata the “documentation of the evaluative, analytical, deductive, interpretative and creative decisions made in the course of … visualisation” to allow a clear understanding of how the visualisation came into being.”. Your paradata can be in whatever format you’d like to, although you’ll probably find that a page or two of text is most straightforward.

Now, to help you get started, I’m going to ask Sierra, Katherine, and Stuart to say a few words about their own creative processes and their experiences.

(Stu was working in the field and was not able to join, as the platform we were using it turned out did not support mobile, which was my fault for not checking first)

Now, you’ll notice that there are different areas marked out in this room according to the canonical western senses. Feel free to move around into an area that captures something about what you might be interested in exploring with regard to our theme, ‘sensation’. When your avatars are in close proximity, you will be able to see and speak to each other. Introduce yourself and perhaps begin by wondering what ‘sensation’ might mean in terms of land acknowledgements. Sierra, Katherine, Stuart and I will circulate; after about 20 – 30 minutes we’ll wind up the session.

At this point, a kind of unconference took place, with conversations taking place mostly in the ‘hearing’ and ‘taste’ circles. It’ll be interesting to see what emerges at the end of the month!

Thank you everyone! Our time for today is now up, but I am grateful that you were willing to spend it with us; I hope you’ve found new friends and collaborators here, and I encourage you to use our HeritageJam discord server for companionship while you heritagejam! Your creations and paradata can be submitted to our heritagejam email, and you can always contact me or ask for help in the discord as you need it.