Canon Portkey - Help - Introduction to the Portkey
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Introduction by Steve Vander Ark

Welcome to the Canon Portkey, a completely unique and fascinating tool for exploring the Harry Potter series. Since I designed the Portkey to be the only tool of its kind, I thought I should give you a bit of an introduction to it so that you won't be confused.

First of all, let me tell you what the Portkey is not. It doesn't search the Lexicon. It is chock full of links back into the Lexicon's vast storehouse of information, but it doesn't search that site. If you want to search the Lexicon, use the Remembrall search tool. The Portkey also does not search the text of the books. That wouldn't be legal.

So what does the Portkey search?

In order to understand that, let me tell you what we've been up to for the past six months. We divided up the entire Harry Potter canon into small sections which we call "events." Each event is a discrete scene in the books. John wrote a synopsis of each event and identified the main characters. Meanwhile, Clint created a series of databases to hold all that information and a data entry screen so we could enlist fans to help enter additional information about each scene. This is where it got really fun.

For each scene, our data entry volunteers entered a little more factual information such as the location, the date and time, and the page numbers in various editions. Then they added whatever tags and icons they thought would apply to that event.

I need to explain how these are used, since they're a very powerful and seriously cool part of the Portkey.

On top of all that, each event is identified in such a way that the program can search our other databases for related information, including commentary from the Reader's Guides and fan art from our collection.

It is this database that the Canon Portkey searches. It delivers to you a list of events in canon which match your search criteria, whether that's an icon, a tag, a location, a character, or just a keyword in the description. Then, when you click on one of the events in the list of results, the Portkey shows you all the rich information about that event, including related and connected information from other Lexicon databases.

Just imagine what this will let you do! For the first time you will be able to find a particular scene in the books, look up all the places in canon where jealousy is a factor, find all the scenes that take place in the library, and so on. If you'd like, you can also create a user account so you can add your own tags and save your favorites.

Portkey Tricks part 1
May 16, 2007

Posted by Steve at 3:52 pm

Hundreds of you have visited the Portkey now. I’m sure that a good many of you are wondering what the big deal is. So it searches synopses of the books. So what? Why the big kefuflle about such a simple tool? Over the next weeks I’m hoping to help answer that question by showing some of what the Portkey can actually do and a little bit about how it does it.

First of all, let me take you to an entry that has quite a bit of information. Click here to go to the entry about PS chapter 1, pages 8-9.

Some of what you see has been entered individually by the data entry team. John wrote the synopsis, for example. Our volunteers entered the location in canon, the characters appearing, the setting and timeframe, and the icons and tags.

Some of what you see, though, is pulled in on the fly as the various tabs are displayed. When you click on the Reader’s Guide, for example, the program pulls from a database of commentary entries anything which falls into that range of pages. The same is true for the images.

This is where the true magic is taking place. As the Lexicon’s databases expand, you see, all the information we have will be tagged, iconned, and given ID codes to connect it to places in the books. We will be adding codes to the essays, to encyclopedia entries, to timeline events, to characters, images, and so on. When you ‘Explore’ a section of canon in the Portkey, you will have available all the vast resources of the Lexicon at your fingertips.

This is the ultimate Harry Potter research tool.

Let’s look at an example of how this works. Click here to view the ‘Explore’ entry for Fantastic Beasts pages xvi-xvii. If you click on the Timelines and Calendars tab, you’ll see two “Related Timeline Events.” No one entered these specifically on this page. Instead, when you clicked on the link, these events were automatically pulled out of the Timeline database because they have been given a code that matches this part of canon.

You won’t find these links yet for much of the Portkey. That’s because we’re still busy databasing everything. As we go, more and more information will start appearing as you explore.

There’s a lot more to tell you about. Just wait until you see what we’re going to do with the icons!

Created 6 May, 2007; last updated 23 May, 2007.