The avant garde of music and sound art is a good early indicator of social change; sound is a fluid and rapidly changing medium. That’s why this year’s Futuresonic looks well worth a visit. In three days of talks, demos and chat, an international crowd will explore how mobile, locative and mapping technologies, often created by independent developers working collaboratively with open source tools, are opening up new cultural possibilities. A project called Tactical Sound Garden, for example, enables people to cultivate “sound gardens” within cities that are inspired by traditions of urban community gardening. The project uses mobile audio devices like the iPod to explore gradations of privacy in public space. In a session on Radio Frequency Identification Tags (RFID), Rob van Kranenburg is on a panel that explores strange alliances between fundamentalist Christians and left leaning artist-activists. There’s a session on how models of behaviour derived from games, anthropology, sensors and mobile devices, can feed back into the design of buildings – real and virtual. The programme also asserts that an activity called scrobbling is “the basis of everything we do”. Futuresonic runs Thursday 20 July to Saturday 22 July, Manchester, UK.