Digging into the question of who I am in the digital age and what are the points one can consider moving around in the digital World

Even though I am already using the Internet for about three decades I just start realizing that I am invited to be much more intentional by using the Internet and developing a personal strategy for my digital appearances on digital platforms which I will call in this blog “digital Identity”.

Approaches of typologies for the digital world

Looking at some concepts I got familiar in the first topic of my Online Networked Course about online participation and digital literacies with the difference and characteristics of the so called “digital natives” and “digital immigrants” examined 2001 by Prensky. He writes that digital natives are born into the digital world and digital immigrants had to adapt, get used to the digital world. I found out, being a “digital immigrant” and not a “digital native” I should always be more in the mode of learning to adapt the environment and not just using it as digital natives do (Prensky, M. 2001).

But is this still valid? I observe a change in me, and it is interesting that White and Le Cornu are demonstrating 2011 the typology of Prensky was over hasty and imprecise. On the background of Social media they present an alternative metaphor. They suggest that the analogy of Visitors and Residents based on the metaphor of “place” would be more suitable than Digital Navites and Immigrants. One very convincing argument is the observation of not being the age the main influencing factor, but the motivation to engage in the digital world (White and Cornu 2011). In the analogy of White and Le Cornu “Visitors see the Web as primarily a set of tools which deliver or manipulate content. They have defined a goal or task ang go into the shed to select an appropriate tool which they use to attain their goal. Residents, on the other hand, see the Web as a place, perhaps like a park or a building in which there are clusters of friends and colleagues whom they can approach and with whom they can share information about their life and work.” White presents in his films about Visitors and Residents the tool of mapping one’s online activities on the horizontal plane with the types of Visitors and Residents and on the vertical plane with the aspect of the personal and institutional self. That’s why I tried to reflect my own online activities as you can see in the first Illustration.

My positioning of my online activities in the map shows very well being more a Visitor than a Resident type and it may confirm yet that the analogy of Prensky might not yet be extinct.

Invited by the course to reflect the content in a public blog I want to reduce my concerns about acting more from a residential perspective through looking at the points one can consider moving around the internet. I identified the question of the Identity as an important aspect to do so. I thought I could start my research easily by using the key words but I was just overwhelmed by the abundance of different understandings of the term “Identity” and also the abundance of articles about digital Identity. The following bits of information are therefore a very first “baby attempt” to open the field of dealing with the online identities.

Dealing with one’s own online identity

The APA Dictionary of Psychology says that identity is “an individual’s sense of self defined by (a) a set of physical, psychological, and interpersonal characteristics that is not wholly shared with any other person and (b) a range of affiliations (e.g., ethnicity) and social roles. Identity involves a sense of continuity, or the feeling that one is the same person today that one was yesterday or last year (despite physical or other changes) …”. The Internet Society defines 2017 identity as a description of facts about a person and their actions. It is important to distinguish that online-identity is not the same as the real identity.

A person can build several “Personae” in the internet with different profiles, like for example medical, employee, behavior profiles or the Facebook / Linkedin / Twitter / Onlineblog Persona). The Internet Society defines a Persona as a partial identity created by a person to represent him or herself in a specific situation. Kirmayer, Raikhel and Rahimi are writing 2013 in their article about the culture of the internet that the Internet is transforming human functioning, personhood, and identity. It provides new modes of social presentation and positioning, new media for expression, and new ways of narrating the self.

A Profile is described as the sum of collected information by others about the actions and characteristics of somebody. For example, using the common search machines may narrow the view of the things because they deliver content matching to your profile.

We discussed in our PBL Group in the course that you have different identities not only online but of course also in real life. But because of the fact that the content once published online firstly is stored, secondly can be spread very fast and thirdly is hardly to delete it is more important to decide deliberately what kind of informations and pictures you publish in the Internet respectively on which platform. Our Facilitator and E-Learning specialist Alastair Creelman advised in one of our online Meeting in the beginning of October: “think before you click”. One easy way to approach an open and safe online persona is to publish an avatar instead of a photography. This advice from our Co-Facilitator Anya Siddiqi during one of our first discussions motivated me to try it out. I looked for different avatar-generators and I choose the program cartoonify.de to crate my first avatar which you can see in the second illustration of this blog.

my first avatar

I conclude that it is important to create one’s own digital environment for the specific context you need and creating different personae to give more control over how the identity is stored and shared in the Internet.

The benefits of becoming active in the digital world

Starting to develop online personalities and becoming more and more residential seems to generate more and more benefits according to the latest studies. Marbun et al. published a study in 2020 that the influence of Social media culture on knowledge transfer and work performance is positive and significant. Studen and Tiberius are writing 2020, that Social media will become the predominant news distributor …. and schools … will increase their Social media engagement.

Being more engaged in Social media means becoming residential on personal and institutional platforms and developing one’s digital identities and by the way digital literacy. After studying these aspects of a digital identity I realise that it may become vital for the own personal development to be visible in the Internet and the same time to be intentional on what  and where I appear in the digital World.


American Psychological Association. 2020. Identity. Dictionary https://dictionary.apa.org/identity (accessed at 10.10.2020)

Internet Society. 2017. Understandig your Online Identity – An Overview of Identity. https://www.internetsociety.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Understanding-your-Online-Identity-An-Overview-of-Identity.pdf (accessed at 10.10.2020)

Kirmayer, Raikhel and Rahimi. 2013. Cultures of the Internet: Identity, community and mental health. Sage Journals. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1363461513490626 (accessed at 10.10.2020)

Marbun, D. S., Juliandi, A., Efendi S. 2020. The Effect of Social Media Culture and Knowledge Transfer on Performance. http://www.bircu-journal.com/index.php/birci/article/view/1234 (accessed at 10.10.2020)

Prensky, M. 2001. Digital Natives Digital Immigrants. On the Horizon. MCB University Press, Vol. 9 No. 5, https://www.marcprensky.com/writing/Prensky%20-%20Digital%20Natives,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf (accessed at 10.10.2020)

Studen, L., Tiberius, V. 2020. Social Media, Quo Vadis? Prospective Development and Implications. future internet. Volume 12. Issue 9. MDPI. https://www.mdpi.com/1999-5903/12/9/146 (accessed at 10.10.2020)

White D. S. and Le Cornu A. 2011. Visitors and Residents: A new typology for online engagement. First Monday, Volume 16, Number 9 – 5 September 2011. https://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/3171/3049 (accessed at 10.10.2020)

White, D. 2014. Visitors and Residents. Jiscnetskills. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sPOG3iThmRI&feature=youtu.be (accessed at 10.10.2020)

What about my digital identity (ies)?