Topic 1: ‘Digital Residents’ and ‘Digital Visitors’

Prensky’s (2001) work on digital natives and digital immigrants was very influential at the time but over a decade later it has been heavily critiqued due to its simplistic nature; ill-fitting metaphors and its tendency to rely heavily on age to determine ability. Even Prensky himself has critiqued the validity of the debate in today’s online world. As a result the digital resident and visitor concept was introduced to understand the complex nature of how we use with the web.

The idea of digital visitors and residents is based on our levels of engagement with the web. We are either a resident of the web and join in the community by structuring an online identity that remains even when we are offline. Alternatively we are just visitors using the web to achieve a goal leaving no social trace (White and Le Cornu, 2011). White summarises these ideas in a video where he further explains that the residents and visitors idea sits on a continuous axis where we are able to be in different modes, we are not solely only a visitor or a resident. The animation video highlights the basics of White and Le Cornu (2011) debate.

The emergence of large social media sites began when I was well into my teens. The digital age was advancing rapidly and I had gone from using the internet solely to google pictures for my dorm room to connecting with friends on Facebook. I have endeavoured to keep up with the changes on the web but often find myself falling behind and concerned about my privacy. This concern for my privacy has often meant that ‘visitor mode’ tends to be my default mode. I use the web daily and with efficiency but only in terms of achieving my goals. I don’t contribute to the web but find others contributions essential. I read hundreds of blogs when deciding on a new purchase and I can spend weeks sifting through customer reviews.

The idea of residents and visitors is evolving as fast as the web. Just like Prensky’s ideas lost favour over time, it is possible that the resident and visitor idea may no longer be valid in a decade.

If you are interested the University of Oxford is currently involved in a study to investigate the theory of digital residents and visitors with learners in different educational stages to understand how learners engage with the Web.

Prensky, M. (2001) ‘Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants’, On the Horizon, Vol. 9, No. 5.

White, D. and Le Cornu, A. (2011) ‘Visitors and Residents: A New Typology for Online Engagement’, First Monday, Vol. 16, No. 9.

White, D. (2014) ‘Visitors and Residents Video’, Jiscnetskills, Accessed: February 2015.


7 thoughts on “Topic 1: ‘Digital Residents’ and ‘Digital Visitors’

  1. A good post, Leigh! I especially liked how you mentioned how our generation, which lived through creation of the social sites, may be already lost and unable to cope with the pace in which the Internet is developing. Possibly I am just happy I am not the only one who lost track of what is going on 🙂

    You also described the role of privacy issues in determining your attitude towards the Web. This is certainly a very important issue (at least for me) and it keeps mentioned on other blog posts too. I would like to ask you in more detail: what do you think is the greatest fear associated with privacy concerns? Is it someone stealing our identities, or rather the government observing every single move in Big Brotherish style?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, thanks for the comment and the positive feedback. In regards to your question about online privacy, I think its more about what each individual is concerned about rather, than a single overriding concern. Privacy concerns for myself are about not wanting to share every minute detail of my life with people I barely know and a lack of control over this.To some extent I am concerned about identity theft in terms of my information being freely available.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi I really enjoyed reading your blog and definitely am like with you when it comes to using the web to get feedback on products. I think what you mention about being aware about privacy is something that I should take into account as it is so easily forgotten about when you use social media!

    Also the way you use hyperlinks is a clever way of making your blog more diverse and helped me get a in depth explanation of some points you made

    Look forward to reading more!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hiya there! a very clear and concise post, especially the YouTube video you implemented; allowing me as the reader to get an idea of the topic as well as distinguish the difference between what we call a digital resident and a digital visitor. To begin with you stated that, in theory we are either a digital resident or a digital visitor which I didn’t completely agree with. However as you made this concept relatable to your own experiences, you showed how the two typologies coincide with one another. I too consider myself to be both a digital resident as well as a visitor since although I have an identity online (i.e. via Facebook, Twitter, Word Press), I do switch into, as you quoted “visitor mode”. Whether it also be by reading customer reviews on product I want to buy, or finding cool new recipes when I get bored of standard student meals!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Topic 1: Reflections | Living and Working on the Web

  5. Pingback: Topic 1- “Digital Residents” and “Digital Immigrants” | irinieopoku

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