Georgia Tech Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts

Janet H. Murray

Janet H. Murray PhD

Professor and Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Affairs

Contact Information

Office: TSRB 320A
Phone: 404-894-6202
Fax: 404.894.2833

Dr. Janet Murray is Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Affairs and Ivan Allen College Dean's Professor in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication.  She received her PhD in English from Harvard. Her primary research interests are interactive design, interactive narrative, and the history and development of representational media. Her widely known book, Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace, asks whether we can expect this new medium to support a new expressive art form, comparable to the Shakespearean theater or the Victorian novel in its ability to move and enlighten us. She is mostly optimistic about this possibility. Her textbook, Inventing the Medium: Principles of Interaction Design as a Cultural Practice (MIT Press, 2011)  unites the myriad traditional disciplines in which interactive designers are now trained into a single coherent digitally focused design vocabulary. Her eTV group creates prototypes of advanced broadband applications ( . She has also worked on projects focused on engineering education ( and on the elaboration of narrative schema for multisequential storytelling. In December 2010 Prospect Magazine (published in the UK) named her to an International list of "Top Ten Brains for the Digital Future." 

Selected Publications

  • Inventing the Medium: Principles of Interaction Design as Cultural Practice

     Digital artifacts from iPads to databases pervade our lives, and the design decisions that shape them affect how we think, act, communicate, and understand the world. But the pace of change has been so rapid that technical innovation is outstripping design. Interactors are often mystified and frustrated by their enticing but confusing new devices; meanwhile, product design teams struggle to articulate shared and enduring design goals. With Inventing the Medium, Janet Murray provides a unified vocabulary and a common methodology for the design of digital objects and environments. It will be an essential guide for both students and practitioners in this evolving field.

    Murray explains that innovative interaction designers should think of all objects made with bits--whether games or Web pages, robots or the latest killer apps--as belonging to a single new medium: the digital medium. Designers can speed the process of useful and lasting innovation by focusing on the collective cultural task of inventing this new medium. Exploring strategies for maximizing the expressive power of digital artifacts, Murray identifies and examines four representational affordances of digital environments that provide the core palette for designers across applications: computational procedures, userparticipation, navigable space, and encyclopedic capacity.

    Each chapter includes a set of Design Explorations--creative exercises for students and thought experiments for practitioners--that allow readers to apply the ideas in the chapter to particular design problems. Inventing the Medium also provides more than 200 illustrations of specific design strategies drawn from multiple genres and platforms and a glossary of design concepts

  • Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace

     A consideration of whether interactive narrative could achieve the expressive power of storytelling in older media forms, originally published in 1997, and translated into five languages. An influential work in digital media studies and game studies, it predicts many of the innovations of the past decade, including the recent "transmedia" extensions of TV series across games and web environments.

  • "Toward a Cultural Theory of Gaming: Digital Games and Co-evolution of Media, Mind and Culture"

     Popular Communication Vol 4 Issue 3 (2006)

    A cognitive theory of games, as an expression of our pleasure in synchronized behaviors, and  a cultural activity that precedes language and serves to create shared attention, the basis of symbolic communication. 

Academic Research Fields

Digital Games, Digital Humanities, Digital Media, Information design, Interaction design, Interactive Narrative, media studies, Media Theory


Gender, media

Additional Keywords

Narrative Studies, Computational Media, Game Design, Educational Computing
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