If you don't mind, today we'll be using the Pensieve to travel many years back into the past. You see, I've decided to go down the memory lane and revisit J.K. Rowling's old website. Who's with me? Dive in, then!
In 2004 Jo's website went through a complete makeover and became what I think was the coolest author website ever. It was just awesome and I think what made it so great and unusual was that it had Jo's personal touch all over the place. It looked like a cluttered desktop, littered with Jo's own stuff: family photos, different mementos, gum wrappers (from all the gum she used to chew after quitting smoking), her glasses, her notes, etc..
You could click on different things (a hairbrush, an eraser, a pencil sharpener, etc.) that worked like Portkeys: they glowed bright blue and transported you to a different part of the website. You could hear different background noises: the phone ringing, the car honking, the dog barking, the fly buzzing, snatches of a programme on Wizarding Wireless, Peeves swooshing past... There were riddles to uncover and special prizes to receive. For example, you could get these wonderful old drawings done by Jo herself:
There was so much to explore and so many things to look for! I particularly loved its different sections: News, Diary, Biography, Rumours, Rubbish Bin, Wizard of the Month, Extra Stuff... so much extra stuff! I still upon occasion find myself rereading it as it provides a treasure trove of information that goes beyond the books and into the very core of Jo's creative process.
The biography was written by Jo herself and on each page you got to see some mementos referring to her past. Here, for example, is the first page of her story that she supplied with an old photo of her mom, her sister and herself, a hand-drawn picture of what (according to her) she looked like as a baby and a pair of train tickets (because her parents met on a train):
Wizard of the Month section changed every month for some time. Here are some familiar faces for your viewing pleasure:
News and Diary sections weren't updated as often as one could have wished for but it was always fun just to click on them, because you got to see different wizarding advertisements that appeared and disappeared.
Rumours and Rubbish Bin sections were just hilarious as she parried all that rubbish that was routinely reported about her. Rubbish Bin was actually divided into: Starting to Smell, Excessive Additives, Recycled, Mouldy, Pure Garbage, Toxic. If anyone is interested, I've got all these sections preserved :D
Then there was The Secret Door. It opened once in a while, containing some new information, usually pertaining to new books. In order to get this much coveted new information you had to find and work out the clues (something I was never good at but, thankfully, many others were!).
But a real gem, in my personal opinion, were the W.O.M.B.A.T.s. I adored them! For those who don't know, W.O.M.B.A.T.s were special aptitude tests that consisted of three parts, encompassing pretty much every aspect of life in the wizarding community, and had to be taken within a certain time limit. It was quite difficult, because it was not a trivia kind of test about books but a test where you had to deduce things based on your knowledge of the wizarding world and its many intricacies, but it was fun and you got marks from 'Outstanding' to 'Troll' and also a fancy certificate. I still have all three of mine! This is the description of the tests from the old website:
The W.O.M.B.A.T.s, unlike the O.W.L.s, consist exclusively of written papers. Therefore W.O.M.B.A.T.s could be sat by Muggles as well as wizards, although the Wizarding Examinations Authority does not believe that any Muggle would have the degree of inner knowledge required to achieve a pass.
So, as you can see, I really loved that old website and I really miss it. Does anyone else know what I'm talking about or am I just this old? :D