Visitors & Residents

Not ‘Natives’ & ‘Immigrants’ but ‘Visitors’ & ‘Residents’

Just because you were born after a certain date, it doesn’t necessarily follow that you are “more” digital. The idea that one can become a Resident is appealing. Immigrants are not confined to living life on the margins. Everyone can choose to engage and participate.

[Visitors & Residents] is a simple metaphor for online engagement: some people visit the web while others live out a portion of their lives online and are, in effect, resident in online spaces. Unlike Prensky’s [Digital Natives, Immigrants] idea, the V&R continuum does not assume there are links between age and technical skill, but instead focuses on motivations to engage.

I see lots of so-called digital natives who are not particularly tech-savvy, even though they spend a great deal on time online. Sure, they do Google searches (and take the top link as the answer – whatever it is), watch stupid cat videos on YouTube, play games and connect with local friends on Facebook but little else. They are residents in a couple of digital ghettos but if they ever venture forth, they are visitors in a strange land everywhere else.

However, even more instructive is the notion that everyone one can be both a Resident and a Visitor. Professionally, I’m a Resident with connections, colleagues, artifacts, commentary – a recognizable contributing persona. For recreation (cooking, gardening, hiking, traveling) and other areas of interest (gaming, World of Warcraft), I’m definitely just visiting.