Saturday, March 24, 2007

Harry Potter’s Virtual Reality

A digital perspective of Harry Potter


The other day I was watching the Matrix on DVD. Since I was also reading up on Harry Potter books at the time, for some strange reason I started comparing the simulated world in the Matrix with the magical world of Harry Potter. In both these worlds people are able to do amazing things and are able to break the rules of physics. With that in mind I tried to find some correlation between the computer world and the wizarding world.

Before you guys start shredding me to pieces, think about this for a second all right. The wizards and witches learn spells to help them do various stuff in the wizarding world of Harry Potter. Doesn’t it sound suspiciously similar to computer programs that are executed to do particular operations? The spells would be the commands to execute those programs. And the wands? Well they sound like the OS which interface between the hardware (the real objects) and software (the spells).

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Brooms, portkeys and the floo networks are used to transport the wizards from one place to another. To me they all sounds like various file transfer and other protocols through which you can transfer information in the form of bytes from one place to another. And the Marauder’s Map sounds like a monitoring system..

We come across various protective enchantments and other protective spells to keep off people from accessing what they are not meant to access. Isn’t that what a firewall is supposed to do? And remember that portrait of the Fat Lady which would allow you to enter the Gryffindor tower only if you know the password. So does the gargoyle in front of the Head Master’s office. Isn’t that what we do everyday to access everything from your desktop to your bank accounts?

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The transfigurations, the animaguses etc where the people can change forms sounds like some form of program mutations. Then there is the curious case of the owl post which is like a more fancied and slower version of the email. They even have their own versions of the instant messaging. Remember how Sirius Black used to communicate with Harry through the fireplace.

The dark wizards sound more like viruses than anything else with Voldemort being equal to the greatest virus of them all. He is able to make multiple copies of his soul like a virus by creating Horcruxes. The powers that Harry has sounds like the only form of antivirus software available to thwart him. The same powers that his mother transferred on to him. Well isn’t that what a software upgrade will do?

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But what really clinches is the amount of complex spell work that is required when they have to manipulate something. Take for example nothing sounds more like a program than the Goblet of Fire. It is programmed to select the champions from each of the three schools. But a powerful hacker, like Barty Crouch Jr, was able to change its code (read enchantments) and was able to make it spit out the name of Harry Potter as well.

Well if you found this post interesting then you are welcome to add your suggestions of other interesting allegories then don’t hesitate to post your comments. If you didn’t like this post… well please don’t murder me as I don’t have Harry’s protection.


sJ said...

Interesting observation.Great.

Anonymous said...

Yes very interesting observation. There is any online world which resembles this