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What would a website look like in a magic thought-based internet?

After getting some really interesting answers on this question, I decided to make a magic "internet", with a lot of similar features to the actual internet. It would:

  • Have magic "servers" that contain knowledge sent to it and respond to "request" cantrip with information.
  • Would be able to directly push information into people's minds without a initial request cantrip, but with a limit of 15 words.
  • Send data to the server and from the client near-instantaneously.
  • Both sides need magic "power" in order to use.

However, it differs from the modern internet in other ways, a few that are very important.

  • It ONLY works with text. There is no images, or concepts. Only text. The magic-based internet is building off the commonly used "Sending" spell. (From 5e)
  • Only wizards can use the "internet".
  • Servers have unlimited range, but the further you are, the slower the connection.
  • Data is stored hyper-densely in magical pocket-dimensions; assume infinite data storage capacity.
  • There's no formatting; no \n's or text. It's just a raw string of text, as if you pasted some text into the URL bar and copied it out.

How would a server owner design their website?

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    $\begingroup$ You might want to reword something: "Rose" is a text, but it brings also the concept of a rose with it. $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Dec 7, 2021 at 13:42
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    $\begingroup$ Before the HTTP-based World Wide Web, we had Gopher... $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Dec 7, 2021 at 13:58
  • $\begingroup$ Do people who access the magic internet view websites like we do through a screen, in that a 'rectangle' of imagination contains all of the text they are viewing or must they go through the text from left to right like those old message printers that would print a length strip of paper with text on it? $\endgroup$
    – Rubrikon
    Dec 7, 2021 at 14:03
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    $\begingroup$ This is a XY problem. If you are in a world with both magic and internet, there is no reason to impose the limitations that you do impose, which are easy to circumvent. $\endgroup$ Dec 7, 2021 at 14:36
  • $\begingroup$ @VictorStafusa This is early in the planet's industrial revolution, and the magic internet is just getting started. Yes, the restrictions can be circumvented, but that takes research effort and time, so it hasn't happened yet. $\endgroup$ Dec 7, 2021 at 14:39

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Purpose is key

I'll look at three purposes for this system, shifting along the spectrum of arcane/mundane. It also depends on how identifiable users are, and how easy editing is. How to access a server is also a question - do I just need a name, or must I have a piece of the server-crystal? The key feature of your wizards-only rule is that access has a very high bar to entry, but is cheap once you can do it at all.


Arcane collaboration

5e wizards love their lore and spellbooks. Especially being able to get to new spells. This version of the magic-net operates at first like a library-index, with a brief (15w) summary of what is included in this index coming first and expanding into a list of topics and the proper keywords to request their subpage. A few hours of use can get you the full text of a spell to study. (This is the forerunner of the Wizard Mobile Library answer.)

Private servers will pop up to work on specific projects together before publishing (or without the Lords of Light snooping on your necromancy research). These will look more like an email server.

Field expeditions into dangerous places (i.e. adventuring) will use this to log what they can - and perhaps back up the field journal. These will look like ordered logs, unless someone was in a hurry to get their last words saved before being eaten.

Jargon will become common, since it lets you pack more information into 15w. Eventually, you'll have a conlang with words largely made of runes and where one word might run on for half a page.


Mundane practicalities

Writing to your server "please have X scrying done" for a colleague at home to see and respond to is rather useful for a field researcher. This can extend to banks cross-checking about money being withdrawn in multiple places, coordinating the lab's Hogswatch party, or many other things. Depending on how formal/public it is, this will look more or less like the library.

Espionage gets benefits here, and a spy will often get basic arcane training, just enough to use this spell.

Although it becomes a bit recursive, wizards will also use this to write stories and play games with each other - postal chess is just the beginning. That will be set up according to personal taste.


Baser motives

The Internet had/has a reputation for indelicate, nay scandalous, uses. Eventually, one of the wizards will create a "premium charge telephone service", or equivalent. That will probably look like a "2gp for next page" or a running narrative.

A message expanding to a few choice insanity-inducing pages of the Necrotelecomnicon instead of the expected interesting article would be a tool-of-choice for some cultists, trolls, and general offensive use. What, you thought something which can inject stuff into the brain of a passing wizard would be harmless? (This is also used to detect spies.)

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Wizard Mobile Library.

Wizards have loads of spells for information gathering. Divination spells include Teleportation, Scrying Clairvoyance and Procognition. The Wizard internet serves as a way to coordinate the information.

The most common use of the internet is to request a book from the central library, i.e Almanac of Basilisk Mating Rituals, by Ernest Funghummer. The book is then teleported to the user's location, for a set time period. Then it teleports back.

This works like a normal library, with the user registering in advance, perhaps paying a deposit in advance and/or being subject to fines if the book is damaged or not returned.

If the book name is unknown you can request a stack of books on a topic for an hour or so, for example Scaled Magical Creatures. You look through the appendix of each book and the re-request the most appropriate after the hour expires.

You can also ask a general query, for example reptilian monsters in West Strophaven in Autumn 3442 to the Grand Archivist, who then puts you in touch with the relevant specialist.

There is a further experimental service which lets Wizards use their other information-gathering spells more easily.

For example the Scrying spell lets a wizard see a specified area or person, but requires an expensive silver mirror to cast, and is more effective if the wizard has seen the area or person before. A Wizard can request a mirror from the library stores, along with a map of the area or image of the person, to be teleported to them. They pay the fee later.

Note: For VERY expensive books, for example the Personal Handbook of Saint Ephephasia IV of Crix you cannot request the book as it never leaves the library. You can however request to scry a certain page. This of course requires you send a request to the keepers to turn the handbook to the correct page so the scrying works.

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  • $\begingroup$ Hopefully they don't have packet loss issues... someone's going to have to return the missing pages. $\endgroup$
    – Rubrikon
    Dec 7, 2021 at 19:02
  • $\begingroup$ @Rubrikon I imagine they keep several copies of each book and can scribe replacements. $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Dec 9, 2021 at 13:37
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I have some stray thoughts. I think you have pretty much fully described what this would be. It would be exchanges of prose. It wouldn't look like anything, just exchange of text.

There are systems of CRUD operations on data and text. You can refer to examples from REST and SQL.

HTTP (Web sites) can GET to read, POST and PUT to create and update, basically upload, and DELETE. They read one item, or read a list of items as a typical RESTful design.

As for formatting, there might be a work around for users to use Lightweight Markup such as Markdown. Lightweight Markup is designed to be very human readable. So a word might be marked as strong with asterisks around it, or even stronger with double asterisks. When people have only text, they resort to this.

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If it is only text based, it will probably look like the early message boards at the dawn of the Internet

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with long lists of channels which could be opened on demand, moving further down the tree.

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  • $\begingroup$ I'm sorry I didn't mention it, I'll add it now. There's no formatting or anything of the like; it's just a string of text. $\endgroup$ Dec 7, 2021 at 13:49

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