The Turing Festival 2012

August in Edinburgh means one thing for many people – yes, festivals!

There’s the International Film Festival, The Book Festival, The Art Festival and of course, The Fringe…but there is another festival running for 3 days, and that is not to be missed in Edinburgh this August – The Turing Festival.

Named in honour of Alan Turing, not heard of him? Well, really you could say he is the founding father of modern day computing , it’s largely thanks to him you are reading this on some sort of computing device now. The festival is a collaboration between the European Open Innovation Project, Edinburgh City and Interactive Scotland and runs this year from 23rd – 25th August.

It’s a full scale celebration of all things digital and web related and last year saw a pretty impressive speaker line up including open source creator Richard Stallman, Pirate Bay co-founder Peter Sunde, Google’s head of social for EMEA Ade O Shineye and Albert Wenger – Partner at Union Square Ventures along with many other big, big names. The festivals founder and director Dr Jamie Coleman described it as:

“…a bit like SXSW meets TED but in the middle of the world’s largest and craziest arts and cultural festival, the Edinburgh Festival and Fringe…This is a real festival rather than a conference or trade show and as such is a celebration of technology.  There are many simultaneous events that are individually ticketed.  I have programmed the festival to go from very public events through to deep technology and tech business/startups.”

what happened last year?

We spoke to Stephen Dunn, one of the speakers at The Turing Festival last year when he was Head of Strategy and Architecture at Guardian News and Media. He now works for the Government Digital Service and despite only being able to get to the festival for a few hours had this to say:

“It was fantastic to see some global experts like Albert Wenger, speaking alongside local experts- and I got as much out of hearing both. It was great that it was a showcase for local (ie scots talent) as well as bringing the global view in.”

Emma Miller spent a day at the festival in 2011 when she was working for a start-up and found it to be:

“full of stimulating debate and cutting edge information that anyone in tech will value…I’d say my favourite part was Stallman’s talk about keeping our identities private in this over-digitalised age. There was a lot of debate on how Facebook affects our personal life and do we really want to move our relationships to a digital platform? Is it bringing people together or making us more distant as a society?”

Emma also mentioned, and how could you not, that the Fringe is also going on at the same time so after you are full up of techy goodness you can head off and immerse yourself in the lands of the arts!

Here is a video of last years highlights!

Highlights from the Turing Festival 2011 from Interactive Scotland on Vimeo.

this year…

This year Turing will be based in both Appleton Tower (Edinburgh University) and Our Dynamic Earth, the programme of events is on their website and tickets are available to buy.

This year looks set to be as big if not bigger than last – Dr Jamie Coleman is yet to make the big announcement about this years headline act but major events he can reveal include events from CERN, National Geographic Explorers, BBC, Venture Capital and Angel investor events.

Dr Coleman explained that from this years ‘Global Technological Celebration’ he is:

“…most looking forward to the enlarged festival for Alan Turing’s centenary this year.  We go from music and arts right the way through to medicine and physics (CERN).  The theme is “digital everywhere” and we have something for everyone.”

Headlining the Education Technology event is Raspberry Pi, the £25 computer manufacturer with a mission to get us all coding.

Other speakers at the festival include Ross Anderson (security expert and author) David Allen Green (lawyer and blogger) and Nicolas Merrill (who went up against the US patriot act) who will be heading up the Security and Freedom event.

Other tracks include Future Medicine, Gaming and the main event itself “Connected World”

And around the main programmes are organised hackathons, private CEO events, a startups party and we are told there are lots more announcements to come.

And for some extra techy love this year Turing Town has been born – matching hosts with guests, everyone benefits! You can host a guest to the Turing Festival giving them free accommodation in Edinburgh and in return bag yourself a VIP invite to the Turing startups party!

So whether you are a hardcore geek, or simply like a good email or tweet, The Turing Festival gives you a chance to gather and swap ideas and is definitely worth heading to this August.

To keep up with what is going on on the run up to and during the festival if you cant make it along you can ‘follow’ them on Twitter or ‘like’ them on Facebook.


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