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Special note for visitors to Sol's Guide ~ 1st July 2008

It is with some dismay that we have been observing the recent legal + financial battles over 'the Harry Potter Series'.

A disturbing echo of the battles some years back when the film-makers apparently tried to compel a number of 'fan sites' to close down. Word has it that JKR solved that one by buying back the publishing copyright, but we can't confirm that :) however, for whatever reason, the legal challenges seemed to stop.

Internet-based sites about 'all things Harry Potter' have snowballed in recent years. Have to say we have some reservations about sites that have disclosed full plot-lines, often immediately after a book has been published, but the vast majority of 'fan sites' deliberately avoid doing that.

Overall a reasonably-good balance has been achieved, with give-and-take on both sides, and sales of books and films have benefited massively from the unprecedented swell of publicity generated and maintained by 'fan sites' as a whole.

Our view is that the publishing copyright is JK Rowling's, and in all honesty we'd be quite happy if no 'peripheral books' about Harry Potter were to be published at all. A mystery is *so* much more interesting than an endlessly-elaborated series of dry explanations of facts.

JKR has done 'enough' by writing the books (we've all benefited from that, and reciprocally she - and her publishers - and the film-makers - have received [and will continue to receive] huge amounts of related cash).

If she - and the publishers, and the film-makers - were to decide to donate a fixed percentage (10% ?) of all *future* Harry-Potter-related-income to nominated charities, that would make a huge difference wherever help is needed. It might also serve to offset the lack-of-goodwill being generated by the current ugly scenes.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

It's our view that 'endlessly-detailed explanations of related facts' simply aren't going to compare with the fast-paced adventures of the seven books, and to be honest, it's JKR's gift-of-storytelling which has been a major part of the huge appeal of the books.

She has *such* a command of the English language - nearly all the words used are "common-vocabulary words" (apart from the liberal sprinkling of made-up words and endless complex names) - and inherent in the means by which she has told this story, a way of weaving together prose that makes it 'moving' rather than stationary.

So much of what she writes 'moves things forward' - there is plenty of 'description' but not in a separated-out way, nearly all of it linked in with things-happening rather than description for its own sake.

It's a stunningly-good 'story' - but it's the magic carpet of 'prose-on-the-move' that engages the reader, and keeps him or her on board. As witnessed by the absolutely extraordinary response to the seven Harry Potter books worldwide.

Curiously, book 1 chapters 1-9 (as keyworded on the site here) shows 'enough of the fabric' for it to be understood how the magic carpet was woven. 'Finishing' this guide-to-the-fabric would actually make it less easy for yer-average-reader to comprehend 'how it was done'.

If you were one of those initially transported into "Harry's world", the first nine chapters of "Philosopher's Stone" were probably what got you on board, though inevitably a lot more people got swept up through the hype, and the other books, and the films.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Developing a keyword reference guide on the site here has required a great deal of immersion in the actual text of the books - what has been developed is effectively a 'concordance' of words used, through keywording of significant factors in chapters and developing/designing ways to inter-relate those keywords not only within individual books but across the whole series of seven.

Books like The Bible have had corcordances made, so that readers can have some way of grasping links across the huge scale of content. The Harry Potter series is, one would suppose, "bigger" (more words used) so yes, it needs a "concordance" which is in a way what we have been setting out to provide on the site here.

But a 'concordance' also means 'a meeting of minds' - and that is what has happened during the process of the writing/publishing of the seven-book series - people across the world have 'bought in' to this series of seven books (not financially, though that has been a part of the process) but primarily in *thinking* about the content. We're all 'on that magic carpet' *together*, or we have been, at times during the years this has all been taking place.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Shared words, shared experience of the books. But JKR's series-of-seven Harry Potter books (as distinct from any peripheral fact-type prose that she might write) are also an extraordinary demonstration of how to *use* the English language.

Kids can learn more by looking, say, at the keywords for eyes and seeing the vast range of descriptions used even in just the first nine chapters of book 1, than they will from any amount of 'theoretical explanation' in a classroom.

They can locate the keywords as used in the individual chapters, and see the context into which they were put (by looking at the chapters in the actual book), and understand from seeing-the-words-in-action how best the English language can be used. Rowling shows the *breadth and depth* of language in the way she writes.

[One has to say at this point that sneering critics who say 'well it's hardly James Joyce' really haven't grasped the extent of JKR's capabilities - nor the reasons *why* her 'prose-on-the-move' holds such fascination for its readers.
- just an aside!   sorry, but it needed saying.]

The 'word loom' is visible within the interlinks of Sol's guide, which shows as no other means could, 'how the Harry Potter Series was *woven*', from the outset, and *why* it had the tremendous - unprecedented - effect of sweeping up the audience and carrying them 'en masse' into the Harry-Potter-world just out of sight of our own.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Because what we've built on the site here is 'keyworded', it's confined largely to 'commodities', characters, locations, magic-and-spells, and creatures. Hardly - if ever at all - are there any 'verbs' amongst the keywords, yet it's the verbs that add the 'movement' factor.

'Ron's eyes strayed to the pile of Chocolate Frogs waiting to be unwrapped.

So often the verbs are 'qualified' with some other word that adds depth or extra meaning:
'... they glided across the room talking to each other and hardly glancing at the first-years.
[JKR has a regular habit of not-quite-saying things, or describing something by means of a negative instead of a positive. Take a look at the "no" section in the "items" area, and keep scrolling down that page ....]

Her writing is packed with the sort of content that 'makes keywords' but it's also packed with oh-so-carefully-chosen verbs, the latter often with some sort of adverb tacked on to enhance or define.

'The countryside now flying past the window was becoming wilder.'

Consider that in the above sentence, the only keywords noted down would have been 'countryside' and 'window'.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

In the first nine chapters the reader is *bombarded* with keyword-type-items. Also with multiple names for (or references to) single characters - "Mr Dursley", "Harry's Uncle", "Dudley's father", "Vernon Dursley", "Uncle Vernon" or, of course, "Mr Harry Potter, Mr H Potter, Mr Potter, Potter, Harry Potter, The Dursleys' nephew, Dursley's nephew, James Potter's son, Lily Potter's son" ... and so on.

Multiple-named characters aside, to understand JKR's extraordinarily-deft choice of words requires the facility to organise/display/order the words in a way that separates them from all the associated 'movement' factor.

To some degree this has now been achieved through Sol's Guide - and just the sight of a word is usually sufficient to recall its associations within book 1, though the linked chapter-page keywords will provide more of the 'context', where needed.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

As regular site visitors will know, it has taken - intermittently! - over seven years for us to fathom out, finally, how to 'engineer' all the linkages of the keywords, and all the set-ups for that (stretching across over 1000 pages) are finally now fully-in-place.

After the nth-restructuring, we have now (just) re-output the keywords of book 1 chapters 1- 9. And it all works! ie the linkages will work not only across chapters but also across all seven books.

A few 'tidy-ups' yet required (primarily of link changes due to the recent massive re-structuring) but those will be dealt with in due course, and the really-heavy-duty work is "done", now.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

But we're not prepared to continue with the keywording of all the remaining chapters (even though this could now be done relatively-swiftly, over say the next 18-24 months) because there is the ever-present threat that any individual involved in the huge Harry-Potter-income-generating-machine might in due course say that what we're doing is "not allowed".

We have no way of second-guessing the outcome of the Lexicon battle (nor the many which are likely to follow). No-one in their right mind would want to continue doing the vast amount of work that keywording-and-interlinking requires with absolutely no guarantee against it having to be removed from the Internet at some stage in the future.

All 'fan sites' have lived with this type of 'underlying risk factor' for far too long. It looked for a while as though it might have gone away, but no, it's back with a vengeance - result of the Lexicon court battle pending at time of writing - and we've had enough. Well, us here, anyway.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

We'd very much like Sol's Guide to have become completed - even though the work involved would have required giving up evenings and weekends for probably at least another couple of years - but in the light of recent developments we're not even going to consider completing Sol's Guide unless there is clarification once-and-for-all that there will never, ever, be any resulting 'legal-come-back'.

We're not asking for sites with say on-line copies of the books to be sanctioned! simply that all genuine Potter-appreciation-type Internet sites (and there are very many) into which so much time and energy has been poured during the course of the 'Harry Potter phenomenon', should be accorded a 'forever freedom' to remain untroubled by the heavy brigade.

Can't see a Harry-Potter-Amnesty ever being publicly granted, somehow, though :P

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

What there is here at Sol's Guide, now, is *enough* to show 'how the magic carpet has been created'. The 'movement' factor, of course, is only in the books themselves.

What we (over the last seven years) have created here is a "section through the carpet" (or, differently-described, "the edge of the glittering cloak"). The cloak being language itself. Of course the significance of what JKR has done, goes far beyond a simple story about a boy wizard.

There is the peripheral likelihood of examining boards being unwise enough to 'set exams' on Harry Potter (without themselves fully understanding what they are asking of any child/student).

In that eventuality there is a real need for 'all seven books' to have become keyworded-and-interlinked, to give the student a fighting chance of being able to hold all the content of the books in his/her head at once.

But otherwise?
(1) the ch 1-9 keyword-pages here are sufficient to facilitate understanding of 'how to write like JKR' (which is more-than-useful for kids hoping to become writers in the future) as well as making clearer the mechanics of the actual story-construction.
(2) completing 'the inter-weaving of all the component keywords' would provide an awesome companion to the Harry Potter Series - *but* it might by its eventual 'completed' nature show less of the "mechanics" of composition.
(3) there is - now - an 'absolute disinclination' to do "that amount of work" with the threat of 'potential legal action' or having-to-remove-it-from-the-Internet "one day".

Completing the portraying of 'the whole cloak' is still a very valid objective (and the only real means of understanding the full interlinks of the Harry Potter Series in an 'alive' way rather than through 'dull, boring "explanations"').

But we're just not prepared to put in all that work with something-akin-to-the-Monty-Python-foot swaying overhead.

Sorry guys :) you can let us know your thoughts *here*.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The Project HappyChild site can 'stand alone' without any Harry Potter inclusion. Up to 12.44pm on 27/06/08 we had recorded 3,728,444 hpm page-views out of a site total of 65,672,923 (so only 5.677% of the total was hpm visits). However we believe that Sol's Guide has a place here, even if current circumstances compel us to accord "Harry's World" a smaller area than we might initially have been inclined to provide.

The Harry Potter Series is definably part of the 'fabric of childhood' but the sheer volume of content-factors over the seven books as a whole is way more than 'a bit much' for younger kids to remember, however enjoyable the story.

What we had planned to do for hpm is like what we did for scz (Pokémon) - take a look at the rby pokédex - just identifying as many as possible of the basic factors and linking them together so that virtually anything at all (and wildly different aspects engage kids' attention) could be tracked across all the books.

But, in common with every other Harry-Potter-Series themed site, or site area, there has been a continual "looking over one's shoulder" in case "the suits" don't approve. In the light of the current (and no doubt future) Harry-Potter-related court battles, we're just not prepared to put up with that 'considerable degree of uncertainty' any longer.

We're planning to leave what-we've-done-so-far at Sol's Guide on line, regardless! but that's as far as it goes. We trust all the financial/legal stuff will get properly resolved *eventually*.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

However ... the area we've built for keywords in book 1 chapters 1-9, that you can explore now,
may perhaps provide more insights than might be expected ;)

Penny.     12.34am 01/07/08


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