Pottermore closes down Insider blog, ends ability to comment, upload artwork

Image courtesy of Pottermore

Image courtesy of Pottermore

Today, three years from the launch of Pottermore.com, Pottermore entered a new stage of development by making significant changes to the site.

First and foremost, starting today, Pottermore users cannot comment in any spaces on the site, upload personal artwork, or post a status on their Profile. All comments posted previously have been deleted. According to the Pottermore team, “A number of factors led to these decisions. As part of our ongoing review, we concluded that some features were no longer properly serving the interests of our users.” Additionally, the Pottermore team cited the increasing challenge of monitoring the posts as factoring in their decision. With users’ privacy and security at heart, the Pottermore team decided to deactivate these functions.

Secondly, Pottermore has shut down the Pottermore Insider blog, which served as a source of official news and updates regarding the site since its initial launch in 2011. The Pottermore team felt that these updates  “would be better channelled in other ways in the future.”

Finally, the team released a progress update on Deathly Hallows, as well as a statement on J.K. Rowling’s thoughts on the changes.

When are Moments from Deathly Hallows coming and what happens afterwards – is it the end of Pottermore?
We’re not far away from releasing new Moments from Deathly Hallows for you to explore, along with more new writing by J.K. Rowling. As for what’s after that, it’s certainly not the end – in fact, far from it. Make sure you check back here often to get regular news on our plans.

What does J.K. Rowling think about these recent changes?
On a day-to-day basis J.K. Rowling entrusts the running of Pottermore to a dedicated management team. However, she was consulted about these changes and of course supports the decision to keep pottermore.com a safe and secure environment for everyone.

Pottermore announced these changes in a post on their site in a new area devoted for site updates. The complete post offers a list of question and answers regarding these new updates. This new page will be the source of all further technical information about the site, much like the Pottermore Insider’s Platform updates page. It can be accessed in the toolbar on the Pottermore homepage.

Throwback: Pottermore announces new ability to share comments beneath Moments, book pages, and J.K. Rowling entries

Today’s news is quite contrary to previous updates to the site. The last time Pottermore decided to change their site, in July 2013, the comment function was increased as to help user/community interactivity. However, clearly moderating comments has become an increasing issue over the recent months, with roleplaying, inappropriate content, and abuse prevalent in the comment sections (visit PottermoreWatch on Facebook to see). So though these changes hinder community interaction, it might serve the greater good after all.

Pottermore News will report on any additional news as it comes, so come back soon for the latest. In the meantime, follow our Twitter for realtime updates about Pottermore.

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Review: J.K. Rowling’s published Harvard commencement speech, Very Good Lives

Copyright AP/ via the Guardian

Copyright AP/ via the Guardian

This week, J.K. Rowling’s famed 2008 Harvard University Commencement Address will be published in book form by Little, Brown under the title, Very Good Lives.

The small book features beautiful illustrations (by artist Joel Holland) on every page, accompanying the text. In the speech, the Harry Potter author addresses two universal themes important to her: failure and imagination — specifically, the benefits of failure and the importance of imagination.

vgljkrSince she gave the speech in 2008, it has been celebrated by her legions of fans, commencement address aficionados, as well as everyday people looking for inspiration. The speech offers powerful words of advice to virtually everyone, but especially students and young people. The book’s title borrows from a quote from Roman philosopher Seneca, which J.K. Rowling used to conclude the speech: “As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what what matters.” Rowling wished the audience “very good lives” at the end.

If you’re looking for the perfect gift for students this graduation season or anyone seeking moral inspiration, Very Good Lives is the answer. The book is available in bookstores everywhere Tuesday. It’s for a good cause too: 80% of the proceeds benefit J.K. Rowling’s charity, Lumos, which aims to transform the lives of children in institutions all over the world, while the rest goes to university-wide financial aid at Harvard University.

Our Favorite Quotes from the Speech:

1. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realised, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.

2. You might never fail on the scale I did, but some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.

3. If you choose to use your status and influence to raise your voice on behalf of those who have no voice; if you choose to identify not only with the powerful, but with the powerless; if you retain the ability to imagine yourself into the lives of those who do not have your advantages, then it will not only be your proud families who celebrate your existence, but thousands and millions of people whose reality you have helped change.

 

4. One of the many things I learned at the end of that Classics corridor down which I ventured at the age of 18, in search of something I could not then define, was this, written by the Greek author Plutarch: What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.

That is an astonishing statement and yet proven a thousand times every day of our lives. It expresses, in part, our inescapable connection with the outside world, the fact that we touch other people’s lives simply by existing.

5. We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.

Watch the video footage of J.K. Rowling delivering the commencement address:

J.K. Rowling appears on Today Show, talks Harry Potter and Lumos

J.K. Rowling appeared on NBC’s Today Show on Friday, where she discussed the future of Harry Potter and the launch of the US branch of her charity, Lumos.

Interviewer Matt Lauer asked the author questions about Harry Potter, specifically whether there was any possibility of an 8th book, as well as her work with children. She talked mostly about Lumos, including why she founded the charity.

Watch video of the interview below:

The Today Show will air Part 2 of the interview on Monday. To read this interview, visit the Today Show online here.

J.K. Rowling sheds light on Lumos in compelling, original article

via Guardian

Archive photo of J.K. Rowling, via Guardian

On Thursday, J.K. Rowling published a compelling piece on the importance of the cause of her charity, to end the institutionalization of children around the world.

Lumos founder J.K. Rowling wrote the article, which is available at jkrowling.com and http://www.wearelumos.org, to mark the launch of Lumos USA and shed light on the issue. Excerpts are inserted below.

In addition, from now until May 10th, Lumos USA will run an online sweepstakes that is open for every U.S. resident who donates over $10 to their fund to reunite children with their families. Prizes include signed copies of J.K. Rowling’s Very Good Lives, a VIP trip for four to Universal Orlando Resort, and tickets to Comic Con in San Diego in July 2015. All donations to Lumos will be directed towards its projects on the ground. For information on how to enter the sweepstakes, click here.

According to their website, Lumos will be launching another campaign sweepstakes soon for those who are not eligible. The charity continues with their #LetsTalkLumos campaign, which launched last year. For more information on the launch of Lumos in the USA, visit this page. Lumos Foundation USA headquarters are located in Washington, D.C.

Selected excerpts of the article:

The success of the Harry Potter books has taken me to places that never, in my most optimistic daydreams, did I visualize myself. If you had told me twenty years ago that I would one day stand in the Oval Office, I would have advised you to change your medication. My disbelief would have been no less extreme had you prophesied a trip to Buckingham Palace, or to 10 Downing Street, or to a fake hillock in the middle of the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics. Yet I really did go to those places and each occasion lives in my memory like a cinematic still, as though it happened to somebody else.

In the last eighteen years I have also spoken to thousands of children: at literary festivals, in schools, hospitals and bookshops, outside premieres and while doing my shopping. These encounters have almost always been joyful. However, some such interactions are not preserved as cheerful images in my mental scrapbook. They haunt me. The sensations of powerlessness and unhappiness that I experienced at the time rise again whenever I think about them: they are rising now.

The good news is that this is an entirely solvable problem. Lumos has spent 10 years working in Europe, where institutionalization of children was a major concern, especially in formerly Communist countries. Lumos advocates retraining institutional employees as community-based health and social workers. Institutional buildings can be repurposed to house community services. Encouragingly, a ‘tipping point’ has now been achieved: most countries in that region have plans to end institutionalization. Furthermore, the US government and the European Union are taking a lead in changing the way foreign assistance is delivered, to move the focus onto protecting and supporting families.

However, there is still much work to do. The United Nations is currently creating a set of post-2015 ‘Sustainable Development Goals’, which aim to ensure ‘no-one is left behind’. Lumos is concerned that, while early drafts focus on the importance of early childhood development, they contain no recognition of the essential role that parents play in nurturing and raising children. Meanwhile, the numbers of children in so-called orphanages continues to rise in areas outside Europe. Lumos has now begun work in the Latin American and Caribbean region. We have started in Haiti, where approximately 30,000 children are currently living in almost entirely privately funded orphanages. Once again, we find the familiar ratio of 80% non-orphans, and recognize the driving force of poverty.

Lumos has a single, simple goal: to end the institutionalization of children worldwide by 2050. This is ambitious, but achievable. It is also essential. Eight million voiceless children are currently suffering globally under a system that, according to all credible research, is indefensible. We owe them far, far better. We owe them families.

J.K. Rowling lights the top of the Empire State Building

In honor of the U.S. launch of her charity Lumos, J.K. Rowling lit the top of New York City’s Empire State Building on Thursday.

The building was lit purple and white, the emblem colors of Lumos. The charity seeks to end the institutionalization of 8 million children around the world, and this week, J.K. Rowling and Lumos C.E.O. Georgette Mulheir are in New York to launch the U.S. branch of the charity.

Before lighting the building, Rowling and Mulheir spoke to the press about the charity. According to Lumos’s press release,  J.K. Rowling said: “Children need families, and families need their children and I believe it is entirely possible, with concerted effort, to help to transform the way the world cares for disadvantaged children.  We owe this to the eight million children living in orphanages around the world, most of whom do have parents and families who, given the right level of support, could care for them at home.

In her statement, Lumos C.E.O. Georgette Mulheir said: “The USA, its citizens and, indeed, the international community have a huge role to play to influence the agenda on children outside of family care.  Foreign policy, development aid and individual giving can help shape the future for vulnerable children and their families in a sustainable way, ensuring that no child is denied the right to family life.

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After the lighting ceremony,  J.K. Rowling visited the building’s observation deck. Below is a video by the Associated Press chronicling the experience, via SnitchSeeker.

Speaking with the AP, the author discussed the launch of Lumos in America, as well as her writing projects.
Regarding Lumos:
“There are decades of research showing that institutionalizing children is inherently damaging,” Rowling said. “It’s damaging physically, it’s damaging psychologically, it’s damaging emotionally.”
“America gives a phenomenal amount of money, and we would love to see that aid and that philanthropy channeled toward systems that support children within their families rather than the separation of families,” she said.
Regarding writing:

“I absolutely love writing for children, so I’m certainly not closing that door. I would love to do more,” she said. “It’s always been for me. When the idea finds me, I’ll do it.”

Rowling said she was also finishing the third book in her series written under the pen name Robert Galbraith. She was unmasked as the author after the first book came out, and said she worried briefly when that happened that another book would be somehow less enjoyable to write.

“I thought ‘This has blown it. It won’t be as much fun anymore.’ But actually it is,” she said. “I’m maintaining Robert. Robert is quite real to me as an entity, so I like that. I know it’s pretense. I know it’s make-believe, but it helps me to slip into that persona.”

As part of the U.S. launch, the Today Show interviewed J.K. Rowling, too, and the author wrote an editorial on her website in support of Lumos. Stay tuned for further reports.

Calling all Pottermore users: The Pottermore Guide App is right for you!

The Potion page as it appears in the app.

The Potion page as it appears in the app.

A handy app for Pottermore players who demand 100% completion rate

In November 2013, Pottermore was made available for tablets and smartphones. The mobile version added a whole new level of excitement for fans who can’t get enough of the game and want to play while on the bus or taking a little break from work.

With the release of Pottermore for mobile came the development of a simple game guide for players. It’s not an official release by J.K. Rowling or Sony but it’s a pretty good app for those who want to fill their progress bar in the game quickly. For those who do not have a lot of time to search for every spider or dust cloud in the game, here’s the Pottermore Guide app for you.

The Pottermore Guide App

Finding items in the game can sometimes be exhausting, as players of Pottermore need to explore every nook and cranny in order to find things that will fill up their progress bar. Thankfully, the Pottermore Guide App is there for players who are stuck in the game. All players need to do is select a book and a chapter in order to find the information they’re looking for. Screenshots of in-game items and the locations where players can find them are also included in the app for easier hunting. Apart from being a handy item checklist, The Pottermore Guide also gives players hints on how to progress further in the game, whether it’s finding hidden Hinkypunks or solving gnome problems in the garden.

Don’t worry about running the app on the background all the time, as it doesn’t take a lot of juice out of the battery. The Pottermore Guide is only available for Android phones and that means programs that don’t close automatically. Gaming site Pocket Fruity warns first-time Android users to keep their apps in check since many of them drain the battery very quickly even when they’re only running on the background. Thankfully, this isn’t the case with this app.

The Pottermore Guide App has a complete checklist for the first 5 books, and is currently up to date with some Moments for book 6. This is a contributed post. Though our fan website, Pottermore News, endorses the Pottermore Guide App, the app has not received official endorsement from J.K. Rowling, Pottermore, or all related companies and peoples. 

Watch the US trailer for ‘The Casual Vacancy’ miniseries – premieres April 29 on HBO

On Friday HBO confirmed the debut dates for The Casual Vacancy miniseries, based on J.K. Rowling’s novel.

As it premiered on BBC in the U.K. in February, the series will be split into three hour-long episodes. However, the three episodes will premiere over two consecutive nights. Parts one and two are scheduled to air Wednesday, April 29 beginning at 8:00 p.m. EST; part three will debut the next night, Thursday,  April 30 at 8:00 p.m.

Along with the announcement, HBO released the first trailer for the U.S. version, included below. THe trailer shows scenes previously not advertised by the U.K. previews.

Warning: Some profanity

In addition to news surrounding the U.S. airing, Amazon U.K. currently lists the DVD edition of the miniseries on their website, priced at £10.50. The DVD is officially released on June 15.

U.S. fans: Will you be tuning in to watch Pagford’s drama turn out? U.K. readers: Is the show worth it to purchase the DVD? Tell us in the comments below.

Cover revealed for fully Illustrated version of ‘Philosopher’s Stone’

The publishers of Harry Potter revealed today the cover for the fully-illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

Illustrated by award-winning artist Jim Kay, the cover features the Hogwarts Express stationed at Platform Nine and Three-Quarters. With owls flying overhead, a young Harry Potter stands in the corner of the picture, in awe of the scene around him.

The U.K. cover for the book, to be published by Bloomsbury:

Kay_Bloomsbury

U.S. Harry Potter publisher Scholastic simultaneously released their version of the cover, donning the iconic logo of the Harry Potter brand.

HarryPotterJimKay_resize

The first ever illustrated Harry Potter book will hit store shelves around the globe this year on October 15th. Preorder the edition from Bloomsbury here and Scholastic here.

J.K. Rowling and agent talk Harry Potter play, set to open in 2016

jkrtwitterJ.K. Rowling recorded an interview with Kathmandu radio station on Friday on her trip to the Napal capital, in which she spoke about future Harry Potter plans.

To listen to the interview, click here. Rowling discussed, specifically, the stage play about Harry Potter’s pre-Hogwarts days.

Harry Potter fan site SnitchSeeker provided the transcripts of the excerpts from the interview, below, in which she discusses the upcoming Potter attractions, including the stage play announced in 2013.

BFBS Radio: We will be seeing more of Harry Potter?
JK Rowling:
Not of Harry Potter exactly. I mean, I have no plans to write more Harry Potter books, though it’s constantly being rumored that I have. I’m afraid those rumors are, at the moment, false. But there are other things happening. For example, I’m currently working on a film script for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – which is very much part of Harry’s world, which is a lot of fun. I’m really enjoying doing that. And there will be a Harry Potter play. So yes, there’s certainly more for fans to look forward to.

BFBS Radio: Have you thought about the name at this stage or not?
JK Rowling:
No, I haven’t. No.

BFBS Radio: So it could be anything?
JK Rowling:
Not quite anything. There are a couple of names are being mooted but I’m not allowed to say what they are.

Relatedly, SnitchSeeker revealed that J.K. Rowling’s agent, Neil Blair, spoke exclusively to the site at the launch for the Hogwarts Express expansion at the Studio Tour, saying that the play will open sometime to the public in summer 2016.

Read the initial announcement for the Harry Potter play here

Pictures: J.K. Rowling visits British School in Nepal

J.K. Rowling made an unannounced trip to Nepal on Friday on invitation from the British embassy, according to Cinema Times.

Nepal borders India to the Northeast; Rowling made the trip on a private jet with her family. In the country, Rowling read excerpts from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone at The British School in Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu. A news site reported that Rowling interacted with the students and took their questions.

In a radio interview, Rowling said she came to Nepal to visit her friend, British Defense Attache Colonel Sean Harris. Regarded by Rowling as her best and oldest friend, Sean was the inspiration for Ron Weasley in the Harry Potter books. (Source)

Jo spoke about the visit, saying, “It’s my first time in Nepal… I have to say I have absolutely loved being here. It’s a beautiful place. I’d love to come back again. I’d love to come back to Kathmandu… it’s been the most marvelous experience.”

In addition to Friday’s event, the author will reportedly attend a program at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Kathmandu on Saturday. According to the interview, Rowling’s visit will last a quick 4 days.

Here are some unofficial pictures from the Nepal visit, via Twitter.

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