News: The New Yorker: Janet Murray Revisits "Hamlet on the Holodeck"

Hamlet on the Holodeck

Posted September 12, 2017

Excerpt from ""Hamlet on the Holodeck," Twenty Years Later," written by Matt Margini in The New Yorker

When the media scholar Janet H. Murray was asked to write a new preface to “Hamlet on the Holodeck,” her influential book, from 1997, about digital narrative, she was tempted to make it three words long: “I was right!” Depending on how generous you want to be, you could say that she predicted the constructive pleasures of Minecraft, the frustrations of Apple’s Siri, and the social story-worlds of massive multi-player online role-playing games (M.M.O.R.P.G.s). Her over-all argument was simple: though there is a tendency to think of the computer as “the enemy of the book,” it is in fact “the child of print culture,” a powerful representational medium of its own that promises to continue the evolution of storytelling and “reshape the spectrum of narrative expression.” Books are good at delivering essentially linear stories, she insists, while computers are good at telling stories of a different kind: procedural, participatory, encyclopedic, and spatial. And they’re particularly good at telling stories that reflect the digital age—stories about fractured realities, complex systems, and networked ways of being in the world. Read full story.