Our online identity can be perceived as one of two categories; a resident or a visitor. This is a view shared by many such as Prensky (2001) who formulated this idea. To put it simply, a visitor is someone who may use the web to complete a task whereas a resident interacts with the web through both social media and other online channels. A current example of digital residents are those who are actively involved, via social media, with the campaigns behind the preferred brand for the union before the upcoming all student vote. Those who are visitors may read the campaigns but will not interact with them unlike a resident who may join the online conversation or share/tag/retweet to show their opinion.
Prensky’s ideas have been brought to light more with the research of White and Le Cornu (2011), who created the terms used today which are residents and natives. This theory supports the basis of Prensky’s however it disregards age as a major factor affecting our use and understanding if the Internet. This is supported rightly, in my opinion, by research carried out by Bennett et al (2008) who point out that many young people from low socio-economic backgrounds have very limited access to technology. I support the theory of White and Le Cornu, as I believe that instead of categorising individuals there is a continuous scale along which individuals can move.
There are however issues created by the rise of digital natives as seen by the cartoon above which illustrates that the world is becoming a less social place as people spend to spend more time online. On the other hand, there have been huge educational benefits as larger resource pools become more readily available with just the click of a button. The web is something, however, that is hard to ignore and is becoming pervasive in everyday life. Used by both old and young with the same skill, it is something that will continue to grow and become ever more prosaic in everyday life.
I have always been taught that online identity is important and can often be the key to forming a decision on someone’s personality. Two of my godparents work in IT/telecoms, and from an early age have instilled into me the importance of not only maintaining your online identity, but also in boosting it through tools such as LinkedIn and Path, where you can connect with people you know in a way which allows the accumulation of contacts within the business world. This is what compelled me to take this module and although blogging is a new skill to me, it is an ability that I now strive to develop in order to build my online presence.