Janet Murray will give a free public lecture titled “Inventing the Medium: A Radically Humanist Approach to Digital Design”
on Thursday, April 4 at 7 p.m. in Assembly Hall in the Virginia Tech Holtzman Alumni Center.
Talk rescheduled for 5 p.m. on Friday, April 5 in Newman Library’s SCALE-UP Classroom.
The advent of computation as a medium of representation presents us with the opportunity to radically reinvent the many cultural practices that have been shaped by print culture. This challenge to foundational professions like education and journalism can be profoundly unsettling, but the only way to come to terms with these disruptions is to radically rethink the core cultural practices, looking for ways they can be better served by taking advantage of the affordances of the new medium. Poor design is often the result of attempts to fetishize legacy structures (like the physical textbook) or to leap into immature but trendy digital formats (like proprietary forms of massively online courses). This lecture will describe a design process that avoids the pitfalls of both extremes and aims to expand the possibilities of human expression by participating in the collective cultural task of inventing a new medium.
Dr. Janet Murray is Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Affairs and Ivan Allen College Dean’s Recognition 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 new textbook, Inventing the Medium: Principles of Interaction Design as a Cultural Practices (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 (http://etv.gatech.edu) . She is also working on projects focused on engineering education (http://intel.gatech.edu) 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.”