White and Le Cornu have a pretty nice way of explaining the specific purposes of a visitor’s view of the web by using a metaphor of the web as a tool-shed.
I had a look at a fellow colleague‘s blog where she further expanded the metaphor and I quite liked her vision: The purposes of a Visitor on the web can be regarded in the same way when we think about “places”. When you think of a visitor, this could be someone taking day trips or weekend breaks to a city with only the necessary baggage, leaving no trace behind (much like online identity), and residents packing up and moving to a new city, building new social relationships, taking up new interests and building their lives in this new environment which acts just like a digital resident. The two authors are right not to label these categories as a dichotomy. I would agree that the vast majority of people are somewhere on the continuum between Visitors and Residents of the web, perhaps commuting to the city during the week for work, but not going there for personal reasons, or vice versa. We are always leaving something behind whether we intend to or not. The very fact that we’ve been there has created a mark, a trace, voluntarily or not.
Immigrants to a place with a language that is new to them can develop fluency in the new language, but they frequently maintain an accent that distinguishes them from the native. This is definitely seen in the way people type, the differences in courses of action when dealing with a situation – Visitors would google or wikipedia something whereas Residents may first seek their existing knowledge, social circle, or even primary sources before consulting the Internet.
I think it is also important to note the dangers of these two categories for professionals. We may be both Resident and Visitor — “an individual might take a Resident approach in their private life but a Visitor approach in their role as a professional.”However, there is a dilution of boundaries. Students who try to live the duality of Visitor and Resident may find that their Resident personality is found by potential employers creates an unintended crossing of professional boundaries.