You might as well get used to that the internet isn't what it used to be. Or rather: the internet isn't where it used to be. It has left home and is changing the way we live, where we live, how we work, and how we move. Read about the phenomenon Hybrid Space and take part in the collaborative development of The Hybrid Space Manifesto
The internet beckons with all its opportunities for enlightenment, choices and fancy graphic design, and this is both a challenge and an unrealised potential - a potential you can utilize! However, this requires that you change the way you work and understand the 'net. The internet has moved out of the window through which we have always seen it - the computer screen - while sitting down, without physical movement. From our desks, or through laptop computers in cafes, we have checked our mail, caught up on the news, chatted and gamed - all things that have functioned, and is functioning, with the computer screen as an intermediary.
It is this intermediary that is slowly becoming obsolete.
The most obvious sign of this change is that in many Western countries, it no longer makes perfect sense to speak of being online or offline. When the internet was young and just beginning to be a part of our daily lives, it required a certain portion of will to go on the web. It meant slow internet connections with expensive minute rates, and we made do with an internet with a lot of static content, for back then the internet wasn't much more than a relatively organic and chaotically organized collection of texts and images. Then came the social media and web 2.0 - and before that, wireless networks and broadband connections - and the number of portable computers began exceeding the traditional, stationary computers. Today it's actually hard not to go on the internet and be online. We have gone from struggling to get online to struggling not to go online! This is especially true if we move through big cities on a daily basis.
This change influences our way of working and thinking In social relations. And of course where and when we work. Work melts together with our leisure life - and vice versa! - and being online becomes a regular part of our lives. For many, the thought of not being able to go on the 'net when and where they want is a terrifying one. For this part of the population, it's not about being free to go on the internet, but to avoid the 'gaps' where connection fails. At the same time, the trend is for our computers to become smaller and more mobile and that our mobile phones have internet access. It is this trend that carries the development. More and more people are less and less offline, and we have access to the internet, e-mail, chats, and entertainment a greater and greater part of our time. Hence, since we never really get offline, we need to define our online state in a new manner.
Hence, at the Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies, we now talk about being in a Hybrid Space rather than in cyberspace.
Hybrid Space is a version of the internet that almost, but not quite, is here already. Our intention with the term is to conceptualise the change we see information technology moving towards, and the hypothesis builds on observations of what is actually possible (technologically) and what is actually happening (culturally) - i.e., what technology has brought about.
Hybrid Space means that you can no longer hide yourself from the rest of the world. Even with your mobile phone turned off and your laptop shut down, you still leave digital footprints that other can follow. You may e.g. be recognized by the countless surveillance cameras to be found in public spaces, and using your credit card shows where you are. Talking about mobile phones and credit cards, within a foreseeable number of years, your mobile phone will likely be your most important 'credit card', since you will use it for encrypted transactions. In general, developments in mobile phones are an image of what Hybrid Space shortly will mean for you. You will use your mobile phone to navigate by, to jog with, to show others where you are, and to pay with when shopping. The mobile phone is one of the clearest trends that show how the internet has become ubiquitous; it is no longer just something we view through 17 inches of pixelated graphics on a computer screen.
There are many examples of how the internet in our daily lives is seen as something separate from the physical world. We speak of "going on the internet" and "going online", and say: "I was out surfing on the internet last night." These everyday expressions indicate that we see the internet as distinct from the physical world we move around in, relate to, act in, and form relationships and networks with other people and objects in. The online virtual world Second Life, which was a big phenomenon I 2007, even carried the separation of 'the real world' and cyberspace in its name. The 'second life' was and is seen as a life separate from primary life. However, in the future, such a distinction may not be very meaningful.
In order to better phrase how the internet will shortly look, we have written the beginning of a manifesto that tells about tomorrow's hybrid world. We expect to publish several updated versions as we collect new material, and you can be an important contributor here. Log onto hybridspacemanifesto.wordpress.com to voice your opinion or contribute to the manifesto.
− Hybrid Space is characterized by a movement away from the computer screen. Media develop with lightning speed. You can do the same work whether you're in movement, has a laptop computer, a stationary computer, or a mobile phone. The mobile phone has moved from the ear to the palm and is starting to disappear entirely into a pocket or integrated into a jogger's wristband or otherwise built-in.
− Hybrid Space is platform independent. It is not important to be on a particular platform or in a particular format when communicating on the internet. Spheres connect. What's important is to understand where your recipients are. Social media won't survive long if they stick to only being on a website requiring access through a browser.
− Hybrid Space is an emotional connection between user and platform. Our way of understanding the media that surround us isn't necessarily rational. Several media researchers and philosophers  speak of a form of hyperreality that transcends how realistic a graphic interface looks. We relate to what is happening ion a screen - whether it is a movie, a game or an user interface - through an emotional rather than logical connection. It works better to suggest than create complex reality. So it also is with our perception of the internet.
− Hybrid Space is an integral part of the user's everyday actions and practises. Behind this expression lies the assumption that we as consumers, particularly in the West, will come to move in the multiple space we call Hybrid Space. With the expression integrated, we point to how users increasingly use the internet to navigate through their everyday lives. Current examples are e.g. looking at Google Maps as an automatic action before a trip (even a short one), that we move from A to B with the help of GPS, and that we jog, bicycle and walk with GPS aid. Hence, our routes and movement patterns are dictated by the virtual. We - meaning users of the internet - aren't always aware of how much the internet even today determines our actions and movement patterns. With the integration of the internet on mobile platforms, the stream of information that flows to the typical user in a near future will shape our movement patterns even more - also unconsciously. Understanding how to commercialise these movement patterns is a part of the business potential.
− Hybrid Space expands time and space. Our social interaction doesn't stop when we separate physically - on the contrary, social networks strengthen our social sphere, and the social networks are moving out into mobile units, which we will always carry with us. We could even say that there's a virtual touch.  This means that the social and the virtual world will blend together in a very few years. When we always are situated in a mixture of online and offline, we also always touch each other physically or virtually - even when we don't want to.
− Hybrid Space carries the risk of creating social vertigo. Because we increasingly navigate by the virtual in the physical, we risk losing our sense of direction - both our ability to orient ourselves in a physical space and the ability to sort through all the data and impressions that can be found in the hybrid space. We call this social vertigo.
− Hybrid Space blends work and leisure into a mobile life. When it no longer makes sense to be online or offline, it becomes meaningless - particularly for the knowledge worker - to speak about work or leisure. Work entrenches on leisure - we've been talking about that for years - but leisure also entrenches on work life.
− Hybrid Space means that our perception of real and virtual must be rewritten. It no longer makes sense to speak of real versus virtual. The virtual economy in e.g. online games works the same ways as the physical.  The virtual profit that is created can be exchanged for physical money - even substantial amounts of several million dollars a year. If we have just one example of a hybrid form between the two phenomena being a reality, we can no longer meaningfully separate the two. Hybrid Space can help rewrite this relationship.
THE HYBRID SPACE MANIFESTO is created collaboratively, and anyone with anything to contribute is welcome. Log onto hybridspacemanifesto. wordpress.com and take part. The goal is to collect input and knowledge for a true manifesto for the Hybrid Space; this article is just the first step. Project manager: Jacob Suhr Thomsen, CIFS.
 E.g.Slavoj Zizeck, Reality of the virtual. Can be found at youtube.com. The game researcher Edward Castronova in his book Synthetic Worlds
 From the article Virtual Touch by Thomas Geuken and Jacob Suhr Thomsen, Futireorientation #3, 2008
 See e.g. the article Gaming Generation by Thomas Geuken and Jacob Suhr Thomsen, Futureorientation #1, 2008
JACOB SUHR THOMSEN is an ethnologist and is employed at the Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies. He works with e.g. user-driven innovation, media and communication, online culture and technology, creativity, and homes and cities. In collaboration with Sara Jönsson and Thomas Geuken, he has discussed the relationship between virtual and physical worlds in several articles brought in this magazine.