Exploring Greenbelt with Last.FM

My particular focus this year as a member of the Greenbelt web team is on finding ways to better integrate festival related content with the wider web, and then working out how to use the festival’s website as a hub for all of that information. It started out with the collage that we built using flickr photos, del.icio.us links, and blog entries around the festival last year, and the next step (the first longer term one) is integration with last.fm.

The integration is pretty simple. We have a Greenbelt group set up on last.fm that we’re encouraging festivalgoers to join. That immediately brings with it all sorts of benefits, like discussion boards, journals, and a custom radio station, but we’re then making use of last.fm’s web services to suck the listening information into the Greenbelt database once a week and produce our own chart page.

By pulling the data into our own database we’re able to do some matching between the artists festivalgoers have been listening to, and the artists in our database. As we build that database out with new bookings, and old archived information that information will get richer and peoples’ listening habits will become not only a way to learn more about the community, but a gateway into our collective history.

There are some kinks to work out. Too many of us keep listening to artists with non-latin characters in their names, and it took me a while to get round to ensure that was being handled nicely. And we probably need a fallback so that if last.fm haven’t updated their charts by a given time, we check again, and provide people a way to access alternative charts. But it’s yet another demonstration of how easy it is to make one site richer using another’s metadata.

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