Although I have to confess that my memory is not always the best, I think I have already mentioned in a previous issue of The Rowling Magazine how very nostalgic I am of the “old era” of the Harry Potter phenomenon.
By that, I mean the 2003/2007 years, back when we used to go online to listen to Harry and the Potters, one of the coolest Wizard Rock bands at the time, while spending countless hours searching for clues about the upcoming Harry Potter books – as if they were hiding somewhere. We enjoyed spending whole evenings discussing this or that aspect of any chapter from the already published novels, although maybe we spent so many hours doing so mainly because of how long it was taking us to load pages back then, kids today don’t know how lucky they are to be able to load a page in 0.2 seconds.
We sometimes were a bit jealous of fans who got to attend the very first Harry Potter conventions, movie premieres or book release events. Some websites used to share news about the books, along with articles about the Harry Potter movies and other aspects of the phenomenon, and for years there wasn’t a day without a piece of news about what would later be called the Wizarding World.
Years went by and the whole Internet changed, in and out of the Harry Potter phenomenon. In the past two decades, new social networks appeared while some others disappeared (MySpace, you will forever have a special place in my heart). The way we use the beautiful thing that is the Internet is completely different now from what it used to be. Sadly, many wonderful Harry Potter websites have disappeared (they are an expense for the people managing them, so if you can afford to donate and help them keep our beloved websites afloat, please never hesitate). Only a few of them are still online, and here I am today missing the diversity of Harry Potter related websites, and spending hours browsing from one to another.
Recently I had a late night discussion with Patricio, the person behind The Rowling Library and this magazine. We started remembering and talking about how the Internet played a big part in the Harry Potter phenomenon, mostly thanks to some kind of websites that I must admit I had completely forgotten about: forums. There used to be many of them, often associated with a news website, allowing people not only to actually discuss news and facts as a community, but also to showcase their creations (drawings, music, videos and so on), play a whole variety of games, and sometimes even meet up in real life Harry Potter related events.
How had I forgotten about forums, considering how many hours I spent there? At the end of our discussion, I started remembering about at least a dozen Harry Potter forums in which I was an active member. I have a feeling that they brought a much more enjoyable sense of community than what social networks offer nowadays, as fans were actually building interesting discussions all together – kinda like what Discord offers now, but forums made it so much easier to save and search topics instead of making threads disappear quite easily. I feel like back then, everybody had a better chance to be heard, and there was no algorithm of some sort, a very important thing at a time when all we cared about was speculating on who is the Half-Blood Prince, and what are the Deathly Hallows?
I remember J.K. Rowling herself posted on her own website about how she once spent some time on a Harry Potter forum reading some of the fans’ theories, even anonymously taking part in a conversation at some point. Definitely, forums back then had the same place for us as some social networks have for most people nowadays, and they also helped build very interesting connections with like-minded people who shared the same interest and were willing to talk about it.
The day following our little trip down Memory Lane, Patricio sent me one of his exciting “Look what I did!” messages, which never fail to renew my interest in the Harry Potter phenomenon. Attached to the message was a link to The Rowling Library Forums. In a time when forums have almost completely disappeared from the Internet, wouldn’t it be a great idea to offer people a place to build an actual community and exchange about the exciting Harry Potter projects that are yet to come? Most of us are excited about the upcoming Hogwarts Legacy video game, reading about the new Harry Potter experiences such as Magic at Play or the Yule Ball, and admiring new editions of the Harry Potter books. I’d be super thrilled to be able to talk about all of these with other fans, share thoughts and read reviews. I think it would be refreshing to have a place like this instead of solely relying on the few remaining Harry Potter websites, however amazing they are. I’d be happy to see that amongst the ever-growing Wizarding World fanbase, talented people still draw fanarts or do other crafts that they’d be happy to share, maybe inspiring others.
The Rowling Library Forums are still very young, but I’m excited to see it grow. I hope fans worldwide will sign up and take part in discussions, as I would very much like to read about other people’s connections to the Harry Potter books and discuss some of the latest news. So if you haven’t already, I can only suggest you create an account and come be a part of an actual Wizarding World related community!