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James Ryan

James Ryan


I'm thrilled to be spending the 2020–21 and 2021–22 academic years as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Carleton. My research is situated in the emerging area of computational media, where I work at the intersection of artificial intelligence, art, and entertainment. I'm interested in exploring how AI techniques from social simulation, natural language processing, and computational narrative can be leveraged to enable media experiences that are fundamentally new in kind, such as Bad News and Sheldon County. This mode of inquiry entails technical work to advance the state of the art in these areas, and creative work to build proof-of-concept media artifacts that demonstrate new possibilities afforded by the technical advances. I'm also working to help establish the nascent research area of computational media archaeology. Here, I aim to discover and celebrate forgotten pioneering work, from the early decades of computing, that harnessed AI for creative and expressive purposes. In pursuit of this agenda, I excavate the intellectual and technical contexts in which such projects emerged, and in some cases I attempt to rebuild defunct systems to gain a deeper understanding of how they worked.

If you're a Carleton student who's interested in collaborating on this kind of research, please send me an email. I'd love to work with you!

Education & Professional History


University of California, Santa Cruz, PhD, Computational Media, 2018

University of California, Santa Cruz, MS, Computer Science, 2016

University of Minnesota, MS, Health Informatics, 2013

University of Minnesota, BA, Linguistics, 2011

Normandale Community College, AA, Liberal Arts, 2009


Visiting Assistant Professor, Carleton College, 2020–2021

Research Scientist, BBN Technologies, 2018–2020

AI Specialist, Spirit AI, 2016–2017

Highlights & Recent Activity

Click here for a complete list of publications and presentations.

James Ryan. "CBS Televised Computer-Generated Stories in 1960—and Ten Million Watched!" !!Con 2020. 2020.

James Ryan. Curating Simulated Storyworlds. PhD thesis, UC Santa Cruz. 2018.

James Ryan. "Grimes' Fairy Tales: A 1960s Story Generator." International Conference on Interactive Digital Storytelling. 2017.

James Ryan, Eric Kaltman, Michael Mateas, and Noah Wardrip-Fruin. "What We Talk About When We Talk About Games: Bottom-Up Game Studies Using Natural Language Processing." International Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games. 2015.

James Ryan, Michael Mateas, and Noah Wardrip-Fruin. "Open Design Challenges for Interactive Emergent Narrative." International Conference on Interactive Digital Storytelling. 2015.

Courses Taught This Year

  • CS 254: Computability and Complexity (Fall 2020)
  • CS 318: Computational Media (Fall 2020)
  • CS 254: Computability and Complexity (Winter 2021)
  • CS 111: Introduction to Computer Science (Winter 2021)
  • CS 111: Introduction to Computer Science (Spring 2021)
  • CS 322: Natural Language Processing (Spring 2021)
Profile updated March 21, 2021

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