Sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic …
Arthur C. Clarke
I talked about a former private project of mine yesterday, a self-bound hardcover addressbook in the style of Harry Potter’s Hogwarts, and it got me thinking. One of the magical things in Harry Potter that fascinated readers were the animated photos and paintings — images that reacted to the viewer in the style and personality of the person who was photographed or drawn. And thinking about the role of “My Schoolfriends” books in today’s world — probably mostly swamped by Facebook or it’s local variants — I can only conclude: Hey, the magic is already here.
Digital technology with ubiquitous Internet access has created a magical world with animated images (videos running in loops), contacts all over the world, instant communication, and much, much more — all in the palm of your hand (or in both hands if you use a tablet PC like the iPad).
Yup, Clarke said it best and while we are not there yet (iPad still does not look like a DynaBook), we do have the infrastructure and the tools. And when I think back at my school time, I can only say: It’s a good thing. School can become one’s world for a while, and depending on how well you like it (or rather: how well you are liked), it can be very stimulating and fun … or hell on earth. “Magical” “My Schoolfriends” books like Facebook can help you to create a community of people for yourself with which you share interests, can talk to, and understand. They can help to achieve mutual support and advancement of skills and abilities that you could not follow in your own environment — and these stimulating influences do make a difference if you want to work creatively.
So, the magic is here, some dangers are inherent in it (mostly if you act stupidly) and we must learn to wield it — so let’s make something out of it.