Can you remember the last time the ground gave way beneath you? When you thought the ground was stable, but for some reason it wasn’t? Perhaps you encountered a pothole on the streets of Amsterdam, or you were renovating your house and broke through
the floor. Perhaps there was a molehill in a park or garden. You probably had to hold on to something to steady yourself. Perhaps you even slipped or fell. While I sincerely hope that nobody here was hurt in the process, I would like you to keep that feeling in your mind when reading what follows. It is the central theme of the words that will follow.
The ground beneath our feet today is not as stable as the streets of Amsterdam, your park around the corner or even a poorly renovated upstairs bedroom. This is because whatever devices we use and whatever pathways we choose, we all live in hybrid physical and
digital social spaces (Kitchin and Dodge 2011). Digital social spaces can be social media platforms like Twitter or Facebook, but also chat apps like WhatsApp or Signal. Crucially, social spaces are increasingly hybrid, in which conversations take place across digital spaces (WhatsApp chat group) and physical spaces (meeting friends in a cafe) simultaneously. The ground beneath our feet is not made of concrete or stone or wood but of bits and bytes.