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September 18, 2008

Residents and visitors

My dislike of the terms 'Google generation', 'digital native' and 'digital immigrant' is on record so I was interested to see (via Twitter) Dave White, writing at TALL Blog, proposing an alternative to the latter pair, Not ‘Natives’ & ‘Immigrants’ but ‘Visitors’ & ‘Residents’.

I like the notion of 'residents' and 'visitors' much better:

The resident is an individual who lives a percentage of their life online. The web supports the projection of their identity and facilitates relationships. These are people who have an persona online which they regularly maintain.


The Visitor is an individual who uses the web as a tool in an organised manner whenever the need arises. They may book a holiday or research a specific subject. They may choose to use a voice chat tool if they have friends or family abroad. Often the Visitor puts aside a specific time to go online rather than sitting down at a screen to maintain their presence at any point during the day.

It seems to me that this is a much better characterisation of what is going on than the somewhat pejorative, often ageist, use that is made of 'immigrant' and 'native'.  What distibuishes people's use of the Web (and technology more generally) is their attitude, not their age demographic.


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