Question: Explain the concept of digital “visitors” and “residents” drawing upon your reading and your own online experiences to date in support of the points that you make.
The concept of digital ‘visitors’ and ‘residents’ is an extremely useful way of analysing peoples’ online activity, however, it would be most beneficial to think of it as a spectrum bookended by these two polarised terms and to investigate their motivation.
The Digital Visitor
The digital visitor is an individual ‘who uses the web as a tool in an organised manner whenever the need arises.’ The visitor allocates time to go online as opposed to remaining logged in and continually maintaining their online presence or in other words ‘feeding the machine’. The visitor is goal-orientated, they always have ‘an appropriate and focused need to use the web but don’t ‘reside’ there.’
The Digital Resident
The digital resident is an individual who has fully immersed themselves, they are thought to live out ‘a percentage of their life online’. These are people who have created an online persona primarily through social networking sites and blog posts. The resident additionally takes advantage of practical services such as online shopping and banking. The web is a crucial part of how they present themselves and how they socialise with friends or colleagues. They use the Internet in all aspects of their lives professionally, for study and for recreation.
Unlike Prensky’s digital native and immigrant theory that categorises individuals based on age, suggesting that those born after 1980, were born digital surrounded and immersed in technology. The Visitor/Resident model is a useful distinction because it is not based on gender, age or skill level but is a mapping of our online behaviour.
White and Le Cornu’s data indicates that ‘the portion of the population over 55 is predominantly made up of Visitors’, but ‘there are examples of Residents in this section of the demographic.’ Moreover, ‘not everyone younger than 25 is a Resident’.
Drawing upon my own online experiences, I have strived to create an online presence believing in the micro-celebrity principals of the individual as a brand. I would argue that this is not dependent on technical skill level or for academic reasons but it is owing to culture and motivation. The online culture with which I wish to engage with is that of the Film industry, my motivation: networking and increased accessibility to consume film related content. Technical skill is something that can be developed if an individual is motivated.
It is important to note that one could be a resident in a professional capacity but from a personal perspective maintain a visitor approach. This is something that further perpetuates my argument that there is a need to think of the Visitor/Resident model as a continuum.
To conclude, the motivation to ‘reside’ online is because the resident believes that opportunities arise online.
Word Count: 446
Further Reading (or viewing) External Content on Digital Visitors & Residents
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSK1Iw1XtwQ – David White – ‘Just the Mapping’
- http://www.wired.com/techbiz/people/magazine/15-12/st_thompson – (Micro-celebrity)
- http://www.forbes.com/sites/reuvencohen/2012/05/11/social-media-clout-the-rise-of-micro-celebrity-endorsements/ – (Micro-celebrity)
- http://www.forbes.com/sites/dailymuse/2012/02/14/the-first-step-to-building-your-personal-brand/ -(Individual as a brand)