When I was a child, like many of you, I was obsessed with Harry Potter. But unlike many of you, the fanfics I entertained in my mind (though I didn’t yet know they were called that) were not about the canonical characters, but all about an American Muggle-born witch OC who looked up her magical “symptoms” online and ended up finding the “Worldwide Wizarding Web”. Even back then, when I was as young as a first-year, I thought it was ridiculous that the wizarding world hadn’t yet entered the 21st century at all, and I decided to rectify the situation.
Well, imagine my satisfaction when, fifteen years later, Hogwarts finally “hopped aboard the Information Technology train” and hired an IT staff to deal with the Wizarding Web and all the Muggle-borns and half-bloods who refused to give up their smartphones when they went off to school! The Setup Wizard is a fan blog that posts daily updates on these IT adventures at Hogwarts, and oh my gosh, it is so much fun.
The Setup Wizard casts Hogwarts as a place that has held out against getting an IT staff for too long, and now has a lot of catching up to do—even though it’s one of the first schools of magic to take this step. According to bits of backstory we get in posts, a wizards-only version of the net already exists (see? I told you!), and most wizards already have a social media presence. Jonathan Dart, the first IT guy Hogwarts hires, decides to start the blog in order to be a resource for other schools of magic that he’s heard are hoping to follow Hogwarts’s IT lead. He’s a white Muggle from—of all places—Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (the hometown of many of us LGG&F bloggers!), and he finds everything a bit overwhelming, so Hogwarts soon hires a second IT person, Emily Vargo, a half-blood from Canada. The two characters take turns posting daily updates (though in reality, the same author, Benjamin A. Penaym, writes all the posts). The addition of Emily has the added benefit of giving us a perspective outside of that of a white male to help disavow us of the notion that IT is a realm exclusive to white males.
The daily Setup Wizard posts always have a bit of humor to them, particularly for those who are highly familiar with the books. The culture clash between backward wizards and Muggle tech (mediated by Muggle-born and half-blood students who are caught in the middle) is portrayed perfectly, making wizards seem like your grandparents trying to learn how these newfangled computers work—with a smattering of magic to spice things up. Take, for instance, this early post:
Now, apparently it’s pretty well established that muggle tech and magic don’t seem to work too well together. This very quickly drew disappointment from the Headmaster, who admitted with an air of defeat that he had neglected to write down or even attempted to remember his login password because he assumed he could use Alohomora to unlock his laptop. It took some pressuring from me for him to not set the password as Alohomora, simply because half the school is already using it as theirs.
In case you’re thinking this is just a bit of fun with no relevance to the important social justice topics of this blog, The Setup Wizard does in fact explore some of the same social issues that the Harry Potter series does, such as prejudice based on blood status; Jonathan and Emily have to deal with a visit from Durmstrang’s bigoted pure-blood IT guy. But besides that, the blog’s official illustrator is Nadia Kyobe, a Black woman, and Emily is depicted as queer, with a crush on a witch from the Ministry of Magic. While we don’t know Emily’s ethnic background because we don’t have an official illustration of her yet and she’s never mentioned her race or ethnicity, her queerness is depicted as a matter of fact, in a nice contrast to the silence on such issues that we get from canon.
The Setup Wizard is a lot of fun and everything I ever wanted to see about Hogwarts’s forays into 21st-century tech. You can check it out on Tumblr here, and you even have the option to read the posts chronologically (highly recommended, because to some extent, the posts tell a chronological story). There’s also a Facebook page where the author gives updates about the status of the blog.
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