DjangoCon Europe 2016 - Hermione Granger and the Wizarding Information System

Speaker: Lacey Williams Henschel (twitter) is an organizer for Django Girls and works at the University of Texas.

This talk explores how our day-to-day life, even as muggles, impacts our code, and how actions have consequences.

History of Magic

Hermione is a muggle-born, talented witch, who works (since 2006) for the DMLE in the Ministry of Magic. Previously, she also worked for the Department for Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, defeated Lord Voldemort and finished both her O.W.L.s and her N.E.W.T.s with outstanding scores. Since there hasn't been that much to do in the DMLE since the demise of Lord Voldemort, there is work on a Wizarding Information System, which is basically a magical software combining functionality of Jira, GitHub and StackOverflow, to help magical citizens learn from past mistakes. Such as:

Restricted Section

In her first year at Hogwarts, Hermione was very impatient with less-experienced or slower witches and wizard, who didn't have the same talents as her. She soon came to realize though that friends help you battle trolls of any variety (bugs, internet trolls, mountain trolls). They applied this later, when they got through to the Philosopher's Stone by using really good programming and letting everybody work their strengths. A social network can help you solve many problems. They also applied this knowledge over and over again, by splitting their work by strengths, such as letting Hermione do increadible amounts of research (similar to Willow), or by making the D.A. basically a really cool sprint.

Polyjuice Potion

The Polyjuice fiasco taught Hermione to value data integrity and audit and sanitize your inputs, lest you end up as half of Milicent Bulstrode's cat. She immediately applied this knowledge a year later, when she took a suspicious untested broom to be audited before usage.

They also learned the value of safe testing (and bad documentation) when trying a spell simply marked as "for enemies" with disastrous results.

The unusuable Artifact

Usability in the wizarding world is horrible: One wrong word and the Floo will take you anywhere (sanitize and check input, let users recover from their actions), portkeys are difficult to identify and work for muggles, too, having disastrous consequences by just dropping unsuspecting people somewhere else, and the Hogwarts stair system is simply ridiculous. The wizarding world can't do transportation, apparently.

Mutari Incantatem

Now, there is a GitHub repo to suggest changes to documentation, which will be immediately applied to all relevant books. Because if there are better, safer, saner versions of spells and potions, students should really know about it.

Seen and Unseen

Nowadays, all timeturners have been destroyed, but you should still not try to take more hours out of a day - if even Hermione can't do it longer than a year without burning out, you won't fare well, either.

You can also check out the blog of the Hogwarts IT guy.