Topic 1: Reflection

White and Le Cornu’s research regarding ‘Digital Visitors’ and ‘Digital Residents’ has resulted in various interesting and well-informed discussions amongst the group. Though I started with very little knowledge on the topic, through research and interacting with fellow student’s blogs, I feel that I now have a greater understanding of the concept.

Personally, I value the distinction between online and offline. I prefer not to update my social presence unless I am online for a purpose; as a result, I fall between a ‘Visitor’ and ‘Resident’. However, before starting this course I would have considered myself a ‘Visitor’, due to my lack of social presence online. Yet, as Francesca pointed out, people tend to fluctuate back and forth, between a ‘Visitor and a ‘Resident’, perhaps due to changes in motivation.

Tatiana’s comment also considers this fluctuation, suggesting that as the majority of individuals are neither a ‘Visitor’ nor a ‘Resident’, there is little reason to categorise individuals at all. This is particularly interesting, as it highlights discrepancies regarding who decides where someone lies on the ‘Visitor’ ‘Resident’ continuum. If the decision regarding categorisation is left to the individual, we cannot expect this distinction to be objective, or, to some degree, very accurate or reliable.

As Namat discusses in his post, the concept of the Web was established almost thirty years ago. This suggests that over time, generations are becoming more accustomed to using the Web for even the most menial of tasks, such as searching for telephone numbers or recipes, rather than searching through phone and recipe books. It is odd to think that perhaps in the coming years, younger generations won’t have the opportunity to learn and function in a way that isn’t dependent on technology, specifically the Web.


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

Prensky’s research into ‘Digital Natives’ and Digital Immigrants’ was very influential at the time. Using this terminology, he suggested that technology plays an integral role in young people’s lives – “native speakers of the digital language” (Prensky, 2001). Contrastingly, older individuals have their foot in the past, attempting to adapt to the digital environment that surrounds them. The ‘Immigrant’ metaphor in relation to older individuals, who are somewhat technologically inexperienced, suggests that using the web is like “learning a second language” – they can become quite skilled, but never gain the fluency of a “native speaker” (White, 2014). However, this model is based on age and technological skills, it fails to consider an individual’s “motivation to engage” (Bennett et al, 2008). Thus suggesting that the ‘Native’ and ‘Immigrant’ terminology does not encapsulate the complexity of the relationship between individuals and technology.

As a result, in 2011, White and Le Cornu coined the terms: ‘Digital Visitor’ and ‘Digital Resident’. Some of the key characteristics of these terms include:

Digital Visitor Digital Resident
  • Unlikely to have an online social profile, due to concerns of privacy.
  • Will restrict themselves to email and Skype in order to maintain relationships.
  • Do not view the web as a place to think.
  • Infrequent users, with a specific need when using the web.
  • Likely to belong to an online community.
  • Having logged off, an aspect of their identity remains online.
  • Enjoy sharing personal information and thoughts with friends.
  • View the web as a place.
  • Use technology for all aspects of their lives.

White and Le Cornu’s model should be viewed as a continuum with two extremes, as shown in the image below (White and Le Cornu, 2011).

Screen Shot 2015-02-07 at 17.13.48

The majority of individuals function as both a ‘Visitor’ and a ‘Resident’ and therefore reside in the blue box.

Applying these Terms.

I would consider myself both a ‘Visitor’ and ‘Resident’. Up until recently, I simply used the web for research and small tasks. I had a Facebook profile, but never used or updated it, thus emphasising my anonymity and ‘Visitor’ status. Whereas now, I am a member of various social networking sites and attempt to frequently update them and this blog with my opinions and comments. However, compared to others, I would not consider myself solely a ‘Resident’ as I still value the distinction between online and offline. I do not update my status or upload pictures unless I am online carrying out a specific task. As such, I, like many others, consider myself a neither a ‘Visitor’ nor a ‘Resident’, but a culmination of the two.



Bennett, S. et al. (2008) ‘The ‘Digital Natives’ Debate: A Critical Review of the Evidence’, British Journal of Educational Technology, Vol. 39, No. 5, Page. 775–786.

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.