Visitors and residents; may not just about contributing?

Like most of us taking ONL222 I found it easy to relate to the idea of being visitors and residents in the digital world. Depending on what place you are in, like an app or site, you can either be comfortable, know the rules and your way around as a resident, or be uncomfortable, not knowing the rules and trying to find out how things work.

Relating my own digital practices and the model I think that it both fits and does not fit. I would consider myself a resident of my most used online places; Instagram, news sites, Wikipedia, etc. At the same time, I do not necessarily qualify as such when I look at how the model is presented. I do not communicate or interact with others, at least not frequently instead, I primarily consume what is provided by them. Sometimes it’s pictures of my friends and family, other times it’s information and discussions I want to learn more about. But by spending a lot of time in these digital places, using them, and learning how to become better at understanding how they work I certainly feel more like a resident.

Instead I would argue that I have learnt some of the rules and norms surrounding each of these platforms; and by becoming comfortable using them, I turn towards residency. For me and my presence online this does not have to mean that I comment on new articles but that I know how to do it. I choose not to because it’s more likely than not an genuinly unrewarding discussion to have (online or elsewhere). Residency in Instagram would likewise not have to mean that I interact often with other accounts, or post many times per week, but that I know what being on Instagram means in terms of choosing who I interact with any why. For example I would count it as a residential choice to have closed account, with only a few followers and a curated list of accounts I follow. Being able to make informed decisions and understanding the consequences of them I can close my account to bots, troll accounts, and people I have no interest in interacting with. This also means that a visitor in a digital place can interact, even interact a lot with other, but might not be able to grasp what happens and why. Continuing to use Instagram as an example I would argue that accepting a bot account as a follower and liking its pictures (if they have any) would fall on the visitor side, even though that requires interaction with both the app itself and attempts to interact with other users as well.

This means that becoming resident would be about a couple of other things as well as communicating and interacting. Relating this to the work my group did on topic 1; where we made the argument that part of becoming resident is learning to (re-)negotiate the balance between privacy and trust, this would be one such entangled practice. In the end, residency would not just be about contributing but about your practices in that specific place.

3 responses to “Visitors and residents; may not just about contributing?”

  1. This is a really interesting take on the visitor resident model and I agree that residency is about communicating, contributing and interacting, leaving traces in online spaces. You also highlight the choices we make to ensure our interaction is informed and we are aware of where our interactions can lead us.

  2. Thank you for choosing to be a “resident” in this digital space too by also being aware of others, your communication and interaction (like this nice post:), and your surroundings. I also think that only then you can be your own self. The awareness is not only about your actions, but also what they entail in the context shared by many.

  3. You discuss the model visitor and resident and question that residency should demand contributing. Couldn’t we be resident while VERY conscious not contributing? This is a very interesting question. It makes me wonder: Could you learn something else by just watching? Studying in detail? Maybe this depends on the “skill” studied? Discussion skills? And does contributing automatically make you a resident? Probably not as you point out. Then you let us know that you are contributing to some extent. I think that IS needed to be able to make these informed decisions. -What do you think?



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