I got an account for Pottermore yesterday. I shouldn’t be quite so giddy about that, but getting up before the crack of dawn to search through descriptions of Quidditch matches in books you haven’t read in a while to find the answer to a riddle will sort of do things to a girl.
The account just means that I get to be part of the site beta (so I’m going to be one of a million testing the thing). I’d be lying, though, if I didn’t say that I’m curious as a fan of the books (although not active at all in HP fandom, so from that perspective I’m a total newb) AND as an academic person who’s been talking about identity with her classes for a while.
In a June 2011 press conference about the site, J.K. Rowling said the following about the Sorting process that the site will use (source):
So, developing these vast pool of questions that are randomly selected for a user – so you wont get the same questions as your friend necessarily – I thought it was quite important that people didn’t get to second guess what meant Gryffindor, for example. But the exciting thing for me is that if you’re not sorted into Gryffindor, if you’re sorted into one of the other three houses you will effectively get an extra quarter chapter because you will go off to your on common room. If you are sorted into Gyrffindor you just follow Harry. But if you’re sorted into Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw or Slytherin, you go to your own common room, you meet your own prefect, who will tell you about famous people who were in your house and what the true nature of your house is.
I’m particularly anticipating a lively discussion about the whole Sorting process; fans of the series care deeply about the house to which they’d belong, many having constructed internet identities around belonging to a particular house. Sorting quizzes have been around for a long time, but now we’re going to have a Sorting experience developed by the creator–and owner–of the concept, which can’t help but change the game up a bit, no?
I’m also curious about the reception/perception of all of the additional content Rowling intends to make available through the site; participatory culture (I’m thinking here of fan-created content and conversations in particular) exists partially to imagine what isn’t told in the presented tale, to inhabit and give life to the unwritten and imagine the improbable. Pottermore has a real potential to joss a canon that’s been “closed” since the first copy of the last book was read.
And, for the record, I am not at this time conducting any academic studies on fandom, Harry Potter fandom, or Pottermore. I just can’t be anything other than what I am, which is a person who thinks about stuff in an academic sort of way.
Which makes me, I’m pretty sure, a Ravenclaw. I can live with that.