Friday, 30 October 2015

Topic 1: Digital “Visitors” and Digital “Residents”

The notion of ‘digital natives’ (young people who have grown up in the digital world and hence are expert users of technology) is often contrasted in the popular press with ‘digital immigrants’ (older people who struggle to master these new norms and behaviours). Digging a little deeper, however, tends to show that there is both expertise (and lack of it) at all age groups. And just because people might be proficient users of technology for social purposes, it does not necessarily follow that they are effective at using it for learning or to build their professional online profiles. This is where the digital ‘residents’ and ‘visitors’ framework adds more value over and above the simplistic digital native ideas.
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.

In today's globalized world, technology plays a very big part of our lives. The 'digital natives' grew up with technology, while the 'digital immigrants' saw the importance of technology and adapted to the digital world. 

The "Visitor" is someone who uses the web to complete a specific task.  He could be doing an online research for a project, or booking a flight. The information may not be perfect for his task, but as long as the information is up to satisfying level, the visitor will be happy to carry on. After the task is done, the visitor may not go back to the website as often because he does not feel the need to share his experiences to the others. The visitor is often anonymous as he tries to avoid setting up a digital profile (creating an account). 

Stylenanda, an online apparel site, allows purchases without an account. As a visitor myself, I think it makes purchasing online more convenient as I often give up on my items when the site prompts me to create an account to continue. Most websites like Asos and Zalora requires an account. 

(screen shot of stylenanda page)

The "Resident" spends a lot of time online on social networking sites, such as, blogs and Facebook, and has a very strong online identity. He goes online to connect and interact with people - close groups, or public. The resident also uses various digital retail sites and services, and expresses their experience on the respectively sites at the feedback section. Whether it is positive or negative experience, they want their voices to be heard. 

                                             Xiaxue                                                      Naomi Neo

In Singapore, there are many famous bloggers and they are good examples of digital residents. Xiaxue and Naomi Neo are very active on their blogs, youtube, and social media sites, like twitter and instagram. They both attract different types of followers - Xiaxue attracts slightly more matured followers as she shares about her family life, while Naomi is more active on youtube where vlogs are currently in the trend. (Disclaimer: Those are my general impressions of them only.)


Jisc (2014) Visitors and Residents. [Online]

David White (2008) Not 'Natives' and Immigrants' but 'Visitors' and 'Residents'. [Online]

David White and Alison Cornu (2011) Visitors and Residents: A new typology for online engagement. [Online] 

Ian Clerk (2015) Visitors and Residents: Understanding Digital Behaviours. [Online]


  1. Hi Jamie,
    Yes, technology plays a huge part in our lives – People can’t survive without a Mobile phone. Even kids as young as 3 years are walking around with a smartphone/tablet in their hands.

    As you mentioned in your post, individuals especially women go online to get their purchases as it’s fast and convenient however this might have deterred the purpose of shopping. Don’t you feel that shopping is not just about purchasing? It can be about fun and socialization. Getting a group of friends out to go shopping together is more engaging than shopping through the virtual world? Yes, bloggers like Xiaxue and Naomi do have a strong online identity as they have been sharing their information all over their websites and have attracted a lot of individuals. However, for me I do not like sharing my information on the internet especially to people whom I do not know as I prefer to be a more ‘private’ person  So after knowing the differences/meaning of digital visitors and digital residents, which category do you think you belong to? 

  2. After reading your post, I have gained much insight on the differences between “digital visitors” and “digital residents” and relating to your argument, I would describe myself to be more of a “digital visitor”.

    Assessing my web movements and activities in relation to your argument on being a “visitor”, I find myself reluctant to fill in personal details online as well because I emphasize on maintaining anonymity online and I personally do not spend a lot of time on social networking sites such as blogging or Facebook. I feel that my privacy is infringed if I were to reveal too much of my personal information online, allowing strangers who don’t know me well to judge me even before knowing me personally.

    However, I do feel a need to maintain a certain level of online identity, at least for professional usage, like setting up a digital profile on professional sites like LinkedIn. Do you agree?


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