Digital Identity: December 1-18, 2009

Digital Visitor or Resident?

Digital Visitor or Resident?

by Cindy Underhill -
Number of replies: 2
I didn’t grow up with the internet so all of my poor choices were made in relative anonymity – not so with my daughter and son who are learning about their own digital identities – sometimes the hard way - and they live online – where I am only a part time resident.

This idea that our online participation falls somewhere on a visitor-resident continuum is an interesting one in that it is more about behavior and motivation than age and technical saavy (in contrast to Prensky's earlier description of digital natives vs. immigrants). David White (Oxford) describes the principle in this 20 minute video. If you have the time - it is an interesting look at some familiar ideas.

The central premise is that visitors (who may be young, old or somewhere in between) tend to be very instrumental in their approach to using social networking or "web 2.0" tools and approaches. they are concerned with solving a particular problem and tend to move in and out of these applications leaving very little trace of a digital identity. Residents on the other hand, already have an identity, are comfortable in their social spaces and may have a well established identity online. Privacy is something that visitors are perhaps more concerned with than residents - however - notions of privacy and its importance may be shifting (and that may be a generational thing).

Recently, we asked a group of (68) grade 9 students about their "sharing" behavior online. Exactly half reported to "share everything about themselves online" and half reported to "be very careful about what they share". Interesting, most knew about privacy settings in online applications and were (in fact) exercising their control in terms of how they share what with and how they do it.

Do you have any observations about the students you work with? Are they primarily visitors or residents in their online spaces?
In reply to Cindy Underhill

Re: Digital Visitor or Resident?

by Norah Andrew -

This is a very intersting concept Cindy and thanks for sharing it. It explains a lot about the way various students approach the online enviroment.

I would say most of the students I work with online behave more like visitors than residents.

And, after reading your post and viewing the clip, I wonder if those in the group who introduce/share useful tools (for collaborating, mostly) are  residents among the vistors. Or, are they just be visitors who have mastered a particular technology to futher their own learning?

In reply to Cindy Underhill

Re: Digital Visitor or Resident?

by Deirdre Bonnycastle -
I am definitely a digital resident, which is why I always had some concerns with the "native" idea. My father worked with room size mainframes and I used to hang out with him in the '60's. I used punch cards in university in the early 70's, bought an apple computer for my classroom in 1980 and was on the university only internet by 1989. Sometimes postings from old listserves show up when I google myself. So yes, I feel comfortable with my identity, though occasionally annoyed with my more outspoken comments. smile