Magic as technological Utopia? Unpacking issues of interactivity and infrastructuring in the Potterverse

CIOLFI, Luigina (2019). Magic as technological Utopia? Unpacking issues of interactivity and infrastructuring in the Potterverse. In: Cultural Politics in Harry Potter: Life, Death and Politics of Fear. Routledge.

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Magic in the Harry Potter universe operates through a complex system of objects, mechanisms and rules. Magic underpins people’s individual agency and the technological development of magical artefacts (such as wands, charmed broomsticks and remembralls) and systems (such as owl post and the Floo network), while Muggle technology and its achievements are often ignored or despised. Several authors have examined the workings of technology in the Potterverse and how it contrasts with real-world technology. Unsurprisingly, these magical forms of interaction have also inspired the field of interaction design, with the mechanisms of channelling and controlling magic often seen as a “technological utopia” where interaction is natural, intuitive, fun and embedded into familiar and tangible objects. This chapter examines the relationship between everyday interactions with digital technologies and the depiction of technology (both magical and non-magical) in the Potterverse through the lens of human-centred computing concepts such as seamfulness and infrastructure. This focus differs from that of previous studies because it analyses the magical infrastructure in the Potterverse as a sociotechnical system where tools, resources and people are all part of a complex ecology of interaction that includes breakdowns and failures. The contrast between the hopeful view of magical technologies as technomyths and the reality of imperfect and “messy” infrastructure is also discussed in light of recent developments in the field of Ubiquitous Computing.

Item Type: Book Section
SWORD Depositor: Symplectic Elements
Depositing User: Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited: 12 Feb 2019 17:33
Last Modified: 17 Mar 2021 14:16

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