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In the Harry Potter universe was there an easy way to search for information? It seems like any time the trio wants to know something, Hermione either just knows it or runs to the library. In the first book, however, they search for who Nicolas Flamel is but have a very hard time finding this information. Us muggles have the Internet and can find information quite quickly using the right tools. Is there any evidence that wand carriers have an easy way to search for information?

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    See, for example, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicolas_Flamel (yes, he was a real person). Jan 29, 2012 at 1:07
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    Now this is a question that could only be asked by someone who doesn't remember doing research papers before the Internet existed!
    – Tango
    Jan 29, 2012 at 5:21
  • @TangoOversway Not quite true! I definitely remember doing research papers before the internet (ok at least before the internet was available to me).
    – Dason
    Jan 29, 2012 at 5:53
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    @Dason: Ah! Youth!
    – Tango
    Jan 29, 2012 at 6:18
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    Are you asking what the 'ctrl + f' equivalent is?
    – Möoz
    Mar 27, 2014 at 20:58

2 Answers 2

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Electronics do not work at Hogwarts, per (who else?) Hermione in Goblet of Fire, so there would be no possibility of laptops or the Internet there.

An easy way that's akin to the Internet? No, I don't think so. At least canon doesn't demonstrate a way, as far as I can recall. If one knows exactly what they're searching for, they can summon it (I don't know if that's possible under all circumstances). Hermione summoned Secrets of the Darkest Art from Dumbledore's office, but she knew exactly what she was looking for. Originally I had said that if Hermione summoned "that, you know, book that talks about Horcruxes," I wouldn't know if the book would have come to her. However, Kevin pointed out that Hermione summoned the book as part of a group, so it is possible to do a general summoning.

As far as the library goes, there must be something akin to a card catalogue to help students find books by subject matter, author, or title. Madam Pince knows a lot, as well.

In Potterverse, it seems a lot of information is gathered through lore, by one person telling another the answer to their question. There are infinite examples of this in canon. Ron and Harry asking Hagrid about the Chamber of Secrets, for example, or Hermione asking Professor Binns about the same.

There are other ways to gather information in Potterverse, however slow and rudimentary the methods may seem.

The Pensieve stores memories that anyone can review.

Priori Incantato forces a wand to reveal the last spell it has performed (or, in the case of Voldemort, more than just one spell when Priori Incantatem occurred between his and Harry's wands in Goblet of Fire)

Veritaserum forces the person under its effects to answer questions truthfully.

The Hall of Prophecies shows us that prophetic information can be retrieved by the person about whom the prophecy is made.

Information is discovered by happenstance -- for example, when the trio figured out R.A.B. stood for Regulus Arcturus Black.

Letters seem to be important information-wise in Potterverse. Harry finds part of his mother's letter to Sirius in Sirius's bedroom, which gives him information about his background as well as hinting at Dumbledore's dark past.

Eavesdropping -- Extendable Ears!

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  • Nice list! I never thought of summoning. Jan 29, 2012 at 1:34
  • On the Internet angle, given the wizarding world was trying to hide from Muggles they'd probably hope there wasn't significant amounts about them out there as well. :)
    – dlanod
    Jan 29, 2012 at 2:25
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    I think Hermione did just accio "horcrux books" from Dumbledore's office, do you have canon otherwise?
    – Kevin
    Jan 29, 2012 at 2:54
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    Prior Incantato (singular, cast by a wizard) seems to be different from Priori Incantatem (plural, caused by brother wands dueling).
    – Kevin
    Jan 29, 2012 at 2:59
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    @Kevin You're totally right. It seems Hermione summoned a bunch of Dark Arts books from Dumbledore's office and they all came flying over to her dorm window. I got the name of the book wrong too. It's Secrets of the Darkest Art not Magick Moste Evile (which is in Tales of Beedle the Bard). Thanks for pointing this out -- I will edit my answer accordingly. Anyhow, it's in Deathly Hallows in chapter six, The Ghoul in Pyjamas. And, yes, Priori Incantato is different from Priori Incantatem. :) Jan 29, 2012 at 4:29
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Remember the books takes place in the 1990s. Internet didn't become available for the average Muggle until 1991. But laptops I don't think were around at the time and even if they were like already been said-would go berserk at Hogwarts. Most Muggles were unaware that the internet even existed or that it was free until 1993.

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    The first laptop was released in 1981. Apple's first was released in 1989.
    – phantom42
    Jan 31, 2015 at 6:27

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