Council funding brings Fringe benefits
Festival goers have been enjoying a more relaxed, informed and, in some cases, romantic experience in Edinburgh this year, thanks to three new council supported websites.Hatched during a challenge event 'Culture Hack Scotland' earlier in the year, Festafriend, Festivals Review and Festival Clock, have attracted thousands of visits during the month of August.
Festafriend, the brainchild of local developer and festival super fan, James Baster, is designed to help users looking for a friend of a date to see a show with, matching them up according to their interests and preferences. The Edinburgh Festival Clock, meanwhile, shows how the festivals evolve through the season, showing how every event lights up and burns out as it begins and ends.
Festivals Review is designed to help users navigate their way through the ever-expanding programme of festival shows - this year totalling 2,500 for the Fringe alone.
"I originally came up with the idea because I always have a hard time choosing what to go to during festivals, and also have a hard time trusting any one source, said site creator and developer, Devon Walshe.
"The site is designed to make decisions about what to see at a festival faster, easier and more fun. We give every show, venue and festival a score based on all the reviews, social media and a variety of other factors. We also award badges based on certain criteria, such as their size of focus."
Walshe was one of 50 developers and designers to take part in Culture Hack Scotland, an intensive 24-hour event organised by the Edinburgh Festivals Innovation Lab on 6th and 7th May 2011. The first of its kind, the event attempted to marry up data from the festivals and leading Scottish cultural organisations with software developers and creative technologists.
"We had a working model based on Fringe 2010 data and, encouraged by the feedback that the idea was worth building, I started looking around for some funding and managed to find some support from the Open Innovation project through Edinburgh Council. I teamed up with two of the developers from culture hack and we've been furiously developing ever since."
The EU-backed 'Open Innovation' project is a three year, multi-million euro initiative designed to promote understanding and implementation of the principles of open innovation by businesses, higher education institutions, and communities throughout north-west Europe.
Cllr Tom Buchanan, Convener of Economic Development, said: "Edinburgh has long since been a source of invention and creative thinking and we see it as our role to do all that we can to nurture and support continued entrepreneurial spirit in the city. The Open Innovation initiative is proving to a huge success, having already facilitated the development of the sell-out Turing International Technology Festival, which begins today."