Pottermore: A Statement of Preservation Intent

It’s time to collect all of the horcruxes that remain of the old Pottermore.  Not to destroy them, but to save them.

Not that I’m saying that the old Pottermore was evil or needed to be killed off.  In fact, the situation is rather the opposite of Voldemort’s, in that here the main character (the old website) has been “killed off,” but pieces of it are still left behind.  And these are the pieces I think are worth saving.

In a magical world, I would save the original files of the website, make bitstream copies of them and save them in different places, including open source cloud storage and on hard drives.  I would interview the original Pottermore team, including JK Rowling, Sony, TH_NK the UK digital company, and Windows Azure in order to document the creation of such a unique project.  Also in this magical world I could pull a Fawkes and resurrect the old Pottermore, by bringing it back under another URL and hosting it on the same Windows Azure platform (or ideally an open-source platform) so it could coexist with the new version.  Old users can finish up their journey through the books, and new users can begin theirs, and Pottermore could live on longer than Nicolas Flamel.

Unfortunately, no Alohomora spell is going to unlock the old Pottermore website anytime soon; it seems to be kept under tight lock and key by JKR and her Pottermore team, with very little chance of ever seeing it again.  Several snapshots of the website are preserved on the Internet Archive using the Wayback Machine.  However, the functionality and interactivity is removed from it.  So someone can see what the website looked like, but even then sometimes it doesn’t load properly.  Therefore, I have decided to go after the “horcruxes” – the magical traces of Pottermore’s soul left scattered across the internet.  And thus follows a plan…

My ultimate goal is to collect the pieces together in one place, not to destroy them (as Harry did to the horcruxes), but to preserve them.  So in the future, when fanatical Harry Potter historians like myself want to study all things Harry Potter, this will be available to them.  Especially since it is JK Rowling’s first contribution to the online world of Harry Potter.  What I’m especially trying to capture is the context surrounding Pottermore, including the user’s perspective and the users’ reaction to the disappearance of Pottermore.  This way in case the old website is ever resurrected, there will be enough materials to show future users/researchers how it was played and experienced.

The first step is to save this video released by JK Rowling announcing the launch of Pottermore in 2011.  The original video released by Pottermore is no longer available (it has been turned to “Private”) but this was the highest quality one I could fine.  This was the first peek into what Pottermore was – a hint about “a reading experience unlike any other” involving the author and the reader. I have actually already saved this by downloading it using ClipConverter, which allowed me to download it in .mp4 format, and that I now have saved in a folder called “Pottermore” on my desktop.  

The next step is to archive the Pottermore Wikia.  This was pretty much a step-by-step guide to everything that could be found on the old Pottermore – you can follow moment by moment to see all that can be collected and done on the site.  Luckily they have their own archiving tools that I can use under a Creative Commons license.  This archiving tools includes the current pages and the history of each page.  The wiki is downloaded into a compressed XML file, which I can then decompress with a tool like 7-zip.  

The end of year feast and the house points from the beta version of Pottermore, taken from the Pottermore Wikia, 2011.
The end of year feast and the house points from the beta version of Pottermore, taken from the Pottermore Wikia, 2011.

The images from the archive would need to be archived separately.  There are 51 pages of images, which adds up to over 2000 images, so I haven’t decided how to go about doing this.  I have found one wiki page that seems helpful but in case that doesn’t work out my plan is to make a selection of the highest resolution images from a variety of Pottermore moments and save them in JPEG format.

I would also like to save this page, an entry on Pottermore from the Harry Potter wiki, which gives a very detailed history on the launch of Pottermore, the revisions and changes done over the years, the full results of all eight House Cups, and the change from the old Pottermore to the new one.  Essentially, it provides all of the background context I need to support the other materials in this collection.  Since there is only one page that I want to save (as opposed to an entire Wiki) I have saved it as a PDF and have added it to my Pottermore folder.

Next would be to capture the interactivity of Pottermore.  Fortunately there is a lot of documentation out there that records people’s experience with Pottermore.  These include Let’s Play videos and subreddit posts, I will archive Let’s Play YouTube videos like this one in the same manner I used for the Pottermore Announcement video, downloading them as .mp4’s and saving them to my Pottermore folder.

There is also an entire subreddit r/Pottermore that was full of posts with troubleshooting questions, favorite moments, glitches, etc. that I would like to capture.  I have posted in this subreddit asking everyone what was important and/or special to them about Pottermore.  I would then save the replies to this post, probably as a PDF.

The final step: once I’ve downloaded all that needs to be downloaded and have all of the files saved on my computer (and probably on a USB drive), I will upload them to the Internet Archive as a Pottermore collection.  I probably won’t include the YouTube videos due to copyright issues, but the Wiki pages, images, and the Reddit posts will be saved there.  I’ve just signed up for an account with the Internet Archive, so this week I will try to become more familiar with the platform as I save/download all of the materials for my future collection.  Additionally, I’m working out how to include annotations or metadata to give more context to the materials I’m uploading – descriptions for the images and the videos specifically.  Now if only I had a magic wand that could do all this work for me… 

5 Replies to “Pottermore: A Statement of Preservation Intent”

  1. This is great. Your approach to chasing after these various sets of materials that document the site in it’s earlier form makes a lot of sense. Kudos on finding that page about the script for downloading images from the wiki.

    In terms of arranging and describing these, I would suggest keeping it minimal. You are going to have a lot of stuff, so I think it makes the most sense to keep your description at the level of the kinds of things that you collected and how you collected them. So more about the scope and context of the collection and less about trying to explain anything individually.

  2. Sounds like you know exactly what your plan is. I am a little curious about the decision to save JPG files. While it does have small file sizes, it is a very lossy format. Have you looked into other formats, like TIF or PNG, which are not usually as small but are lossless?

    1. JPG was the first file format I thought of, but I should look into TIF and PNG. And most of the artwork is definitely worth saving in as high resolution a format as possible, so thanks for the tip!

  3. I love the complexity of this project!
    Were you able to get feedback from the Potter-verse of fans regarding the project? Also, do you think efforts should be made right now (but not in your project) to start preserving the current Pottermore website in case JKR and crew revamp it yet again?

    1. That is an excellent question about the current Pottermore page! I do think that efforts should be made to preserve the current Pottermore. I know some people on the Pottermore subreddit have already organized a list of all of JK Rowling’s writings from the old and new Pottermore, which is a start. But knowing that JKR can at any time decide to change the website makes me feel like I should at least make an effort to take snapshots with the WayBack Machine just in case…

      As for the feedback, I haven’t gotten anything yet, but I did just post about it. Also, it seems (sadly) that a lot of Pottermore fans have abandoned the subreddit since the old Pottermore disappeared, so I’m not sure how much feedback I’ll get by next week. Luckily, since posts have been sparse since the new Pottermore was launched I can easily flip back through old archived posts about Pottermore and save those if I need to.

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