Topic 1: Reflection

The ‘Digital Resident’ and ‘Visitor’ narrative was a very interesting starting point for the first blog post. The idea of starting a blog on the topic of how we categorise people’s usage of the web produced posts that were easy to relate to and discuss. Sophie Elliott’s post used personal experience to reiterate the potential divide between parents and children. The post also highlights how experience and knowledge shape our use of the web. Jens Buhler’s blog also brought up the importance of considering the risks involved in using the web, which leads to an interesting thought regarding digital residents and their security concerns or lack thereof.

I found reading other blogs based on Prensky, as well as White and Le Cornu’s work, has resulted in many of us now critically assessing our interactions on the web. Though Prensky’s work has been critiqued for its simplicity and its inability to be flexible, it still the founding idea of what is now an ever growing and evolving discussion.

Since starting the blog I have joined Twitter, Instagram and created an About.Me profile, which has definitely evolved my usage of the web. However, the evolving nature of my usage has also made me realise how difficult it can be, to be objective about where I place myself on the axis between resident and visitor, perhaps highlighting a critique of White and Le Cornu’s work. Though the open nature of White and Le Cornu’s classification means that unlike Prensky’s work, it is adaptable and open to change with the evolution of the web.

Conducting research and viewing others blogs, made me consider how useful the narrative was. The idea that we lie between 2 extremes is interesting, especially as it can be used to classify people however, this classification needs to have a purpose.

Commented on:

Sophie Elliott blog

Jens Buhler blog


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.