From the above video (White, D. 2013), Mr Dave White described digital visitors as those who ‘leave no trace’. On the flipside, digital residents are those who ‘live’ online.

Digital visitors are people who use the net as an aid in achieving certain goals. Basically, these visitors search for what they need from the net, such as researching for articles. Once they are done with it, they would leave without leaving any trail. They are more like the users than members of the web (White, D & Cornu, A.L. 2011).

For instance, I would research on articles and journals through search engine on the web such as Google Scholars. It acts as a tool in helping me to achieve my goal of increasing my knowledge as well as providing evidences to my reports. Once I am done with my researches, I logged off without leaving any trace of my profile in the net.

On the other hand, digital residents are those who spend most of their time online. They communicate with their friends and colleagues online. They take the net as a place where they can express their opinions, form relationships as well as creating an identity (White, D, et al. 2012). Unlike digital visitors, residents leave their footprints in the net. They are those who have an account in social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr. These residents also use the services provided in the net such as banking, shopping, searching for information and more, reason being that they are convenient.

What I am doing currently — writing a blog post and posting it — is an example of a digital resident.


Besides that, I have an account in social media network such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and I would update it frequently to create my presence in the web. I would also use online services such as internet banking as well as shopping online as it grants me with the convenience. Unlike digital visitors, even when I logged off from my accounts, there will still be traces of my digital profile in the net.

Both digital visitor and resident are not exactly mutually exclusive. One can be both a digital visitor as well as digital resident. You can use the net as an aid in your academic such as researching for more information and also utilising it to extend the social relationship through expressing opinions or communicating with others through the net.


White, D. (2008) Not ‘Natives’ & ‘Immigrants’ but ‘Visitors’ & ‘Residents’. Tall Blog. University of Oxford. [Accessed: 27th November 2014]

White, D. (2013). Visitors and Residents. YouTube Video. [Accessed: 27th November 2014]

White, D & Cornu, A.L. (2011). Visitors and Residents: A new typology for online engagement. First Monday, 16(9).[Accessed: 27th November 2014]

White, D, et al. (2012). Digital Visitors and Residents. Progress Report. JISC, University of Oxford, OCLC, University of North Carolina. [Accessed: 27th November 2014]

White, D, et al. (2014). Evaluating Digital Services: a Visitors and Residents approach. JISCinfoKit. [Accessed: 27th November 2014]



  1. That’s some interesting video and write-up you have there! I like how you used the video to provide an in-depth explanation of what digital visitors and residents are like. Also, I like how you pointed out the fact that digital visitors and residents are not mutually exclusive where they exist together in one space.

    However, I do have a question as to what extent of web presence would you consider one to be a digital resident? Would posting on social media frequently be enough to fall under the digital resident category? Other than that, I do agree with what you said about digital visitors not leaving any traces behind and using the web mostly for research purposes. Also, wouldn’t using online services such as iBanking be considered something that a digital visitor will do since it is considered a “goal” that they would like to achieve by going onto the web?

    Overall, it is a good write-up and keep up the good work!


    1. Hi Corinne, thanks for your comment.

      Regarding your first question, I would think that everyone who does have a social media network account would be consider as a digital resident, no matter how long they commit into the internet. The fact is that a percentage of their lives have actually lived out online, be it a small percentage or large percentage. However, they can be categorised into whether they are a temporary resident or a permanent resident. For example, those YouTubers and bloggers who earn a living through the internet would definitely be categorised under permanent residents.

      Also, I would actually consider those people who use online services as both a resident as well as visitor, as I did mentioned in the blog post that they are not mutually exclusive. Reason being, they have already created an account in the net which would leave traces of their particular in there. Therefore, I would consider them as both visitor and resident, but probably a temporary resident.



  2. Hey Ruhuan,

    Interesting points you’ve got there, a detailed explaination about the difference between a resident and a visitor. Also, I loved how you put up your insta profile as an example.

    I do have a question tho, I understand that you defined “digital visitors” as those who leave no traces. However, let’s say if you are one that does not have a facebook account and your friend uploaded a photo of your on her account and tagged it as your name and you went up on the net to check out the photo, will you be consider as a “digital resident” immediately because there’s a trace left behind? Would there be a better definition that can help people better identify the residents and the visitors?

    But still, good job and keep it up!! 🙂


    1. Hi Yanyi, thanks for your comment.

      Regarding your question, I would consider that someone who uses the internet to search for information and does not have any social media network account a digital visitor. Even if their friends have mentioned their names or even uploaded photos of them, they are not counted as a digital resident. A digital resident is an individual who lives a percentage of their life online. (White, D. 2008) However, in this case, they do not live any percentage of their own life online. Moreover, those tags from their friends do not really linked to any of their profiles. Therefore, it does not really reflect an online identity of them. I hope this help to clear your queries.



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