Who Am I?
Much to the controversy of classifying web users stems from Marc Prensky’s Digital natives, digital immigrants in 2001 where he categorises web users based on the idea that use and knowledge of technology is comparable to spoken language. It was thought speaking ‘tech’ could either be your mother tongue or it wasn’t.
In an article by David S. White and Alison Le Cornu titled Visitors and Residents: A new typology for online engagement, they have identified users of the web as either Visitors or Residents or more specifically on a continuum of the two being at each end. However White and Le Cornu didn’t just stop there.
“Our typology of Visitors and Residents turn to the metaphor of place to provide an analytic framework, but the strength of moving away from language and accent and placing the emphasis on motivation allows for a wide variety of practices which span all age groups and does not require individuals to be boxed, inexorably, in one category or the other.”
-White & Le Cornu.
What’s The Difference?
It is not that simple. I consider myself to be reasonably more equipped in using the internet as a tool than my some of my friends. However, I spend considerably less time if not at all letting people know what is on my mind on Facebook. Time spent online and technological proficiency do not matter. Nor do you hold a cemented place on the scale of being a Visitor or a Resident. I spend the majority of my time on the web as a Visitor meeting the gigantic reading demands of Psychology in Uni. I occasionally squeeze in between my work as a Resident, catching up with family and friends from the other side of the world.
As White and Le Cornu mentioned, the key term is motivation. Residents have an identity by portraying personal opinions and thoughts while Visitors do not and remain anonymous.
Though the concepts of Visitor and Resident are fairly new it does not answer the real question of who is who in the digital world. The flexibility of the two concepts negates the purpose of categorisation in the first place. One of the main reasons why there is a need for concrete categorisation is to ensure a proper education system can take place. Too much ‘not necessarilys’ will not benefit anyone moving forward.
Marc Prensky (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants. On the Horizon, 9 (5).
White, D., and Le Cornu, A,L. (2011). Visitors and Residents: A new typology for online engagement. First Monday, 16 (9).