If you can’t wait around for the future to happen, chances are you will feel at home at the FutureEverything festival. From it’s base in Manchester, England, it’s been chasing the future for fifteen years and has no intention of giving up. An annual gathering of some of the world’s most pioneering artists, technologists and political activists, it has brought into sharp focus the freshest ideas in the intersection between digital and urban environments. They call their mission “prototyping the world.” Says technologist Adam Greenfield, “If the entire city is going to be addressable, and scriptable and query-able, then we should be thinking about what kinds of networked cities we want to be living in.”
For their most recent conference, FutureEverything invited Motherboard to come play in Manchester, a city that is both an urban and digital sandpit. From found art in Google Street View to tracking anti-social behavior in your vicinity, to the simple act of “checking-in,” FutureEverything – and its founder Drew Hemment – shows that technology can be as sinister as it is enabling. But if the increasing presence of technologies in our everyday lives can lead to estrangement or control, they can also, as some of these technologists are demonstrating, create a whole new way of thinking about and remaking the city.