Topic 2: Online Identities

The internet has become an indispensable facet of daily life, especially in the last decade. This has led to web users, whether consciously or unconsciously, creating what are called online identities.


As a whole, your identity sums up all of the characteristics (i.e. hometown, date of birth etc.) that make you who you are. When you’re online, every website that you visit gathers some information about your identity and your interactions which comprise your online identity (Internet Society).


Websites can require different information and be used differently (e.g. interactions on Tumblr may not be the same as interactions on LinkedIn), so no one online identity can fully represent a person. The information on these websites reflect an aspect of your full identity, creating several partial identities that are called personas.

Marwick (2005) defines online identity as creating a separation between our lives online and our ‘real life’ that we carry out offline. However, since the internet has become so pervasive, in exploring the benefits and drawbacks of having multiple identities, it may be more beneficial to look at the difference between our “private online self versus the public online self” (Gannes, 2011).


Figure 2: Visual representation of the public online self vs. the private online self 

As touched on in Topic 1, the context in which we are using the internet, perhaps as a ‘visitor’ or ‘resident’ (White and Cornu, 2011) can determine how many online identities we have, if any at all. Beyond exploring its purpose, is important to consider the advantages and disadvantages of having more than one online identity.

I think having more than one online identity is necessary, especially to separate my professional and personal life on the web. Once again, context is key in determining whether having more than one digital identity is positive or negative. For example, a young internet user (i.e. in primary school) having several online identities for both personal and professional/educational purposes may not be as positive as a university student having the same number of personas online. The internet is frequently used for educational purposes, whereby young people make accounts on online learning sites, which as we’ve learnt will store their information and interactions. Younger internet users may not know the risks of their information being spread so vastly on the internet, which is a contextual point that should be considered in determining the benefits of having multiple online identities.

Word Count: 400


Casserly, M. (2011, January 26). Multiple Personalities And Social Media: The Many Faces of Me. Forbes [Accessed: 25 February 2017]

Costa, C., & Torres, R. (2011). To be or not to be, the importance of Digital Identity in the networked society. Educação, Formação & Tecnologias, 47-53.

Gannes, L. (2011, January 1). The Social Web’s Big New Theme for 2011: Multiple Identities for Everyone!. All Things D [Accessed: 25 February 2017]

Marwick, A. E. (2005). Selling your self: Online identity in the age of a commodified internet (Doctoral dissertation, University of Washington)

Online Identity Overview: Internet Society [Accessed: 25 February 2017]

Krotoski, A. (2012, April 19). Online identity: is authenticity or anonymity more important? Guardian. [Accessed: 25 February 2017]

White, D. S., & Le Cornu, A. (2011). Visitors and Residents: A new typology for online engagement. First Monday16(9). [Accessed: 10 February 2017],%20Aslib%20Proceedings%202009.pdf

[CNN] (2015, April 16) Online identity victim: Digital thief stole my face [Video File]. [Accessed: 25 February 2017]

Featured image, Figure 2 & Presentation: Self-produced


Topic 1: Reflection

Upon my initial read of the material surrounding this topic, I was decisive in my belief that Prensky’s definition of digital ‘natives’ and ‘immigrants’ was not as appropriate as it may have been when it was theorised because of the progression of technology, especially the internet, and its new-found uses (i.e. social media). In light of this, I naturally had an affinity to White and Cornu’s digital ‘residents’ and ‘visitors’ concept because it struck me as more inclusive of people who lie in the middle of what they called their continuum.

However, after reading Jordan’s post, I was able to take a critical approach when looking at the idea of digital ‘residents’ and ‘visitors’. As stated in my comment, from my own research, I hadn’t considered the evaluation of context being so significant to the classification of a person’s digital literacy. As well as this, Harriet’s blog post also highlighted to me that digital literacies can develop based on several different motivations. Although I was aware that a digital ‘visitor’ may be categorised as such because they don’t have the intention to reside online, I hadn’t accounted for a person having the desire to improve their use of digital resources, but already being restricted by a certain label.

Despite this being my first post, I have already learnt a lot from reading other people’s interpretations of the topic. I have also learnt a lot about my own digital literacy. As I mentioned in my own blog post, I evaluated myself on the continuum, and I believe much like other people, occupy the middle of the two ‘opposites’. For that reason, I feel that the two can operate harmoniously and by accounting for context, as stated by Jordan, the idea of ‘residents’ and ‘visitors’ can be applied more effectively applied.

Word Count: 299


Featured image: Self-produced

My comments:

Topic 1: Digital ‘Residents’ & ‘Visitors’

It is safe to say that digital technology is an irreplaceable aspect of modern life. However, despite this fact, there is a clear distinction between those who live a large aspect of their lives online and those who only use technology or the web as an access point for information. Prensky (2001) defined these two categories as digital ‘natives’, the innate experts in technology and digital ‘immigrants’, who are foreign to the world of technology.

White and Cornu (2011) posited an alternative thesis, highlighting that the distinction isn’t as clear cut and doesn’t account for other aspects such as the web being tool as a principal reason why people use it. In light of this, it is proposed that there are digital ‘visitors and ‘residents’.

According to Lanclos and Cornu, digital ‘visitors’ remain “relatively anonymous” and “try to avoid the creation of digital identity” (2012:6). Their purpose is predominantly to achieve an aim when engaging with the web and once this purpose is fulfilled, they return the tool to the shed and go about their lives offline (White and Cornu, 2011). Digital ‘residents’ are almost completely opposite. They are characterised for seeing the web as a place and somewhere that they live out a part of their life. For ‘residents’, an indispensable part of their online presence involves the creation and maintenance of a digital identity, mostly through social networking sites, but does still include the use of more practical tools (i.e. websites for online banking).

In considering my own position on the “continuum of ‘Visitors’ and ‘Residents’” (White and Cornu, 2011) I agree with a lot of the points that are made, especially regarding age. I would definitely describe myself as being a part of the box in the centre of Figure 1. I’ve been using the web for the majority of my life, however as I’ve grown older, I have become a ‘Resident’ in my professional/university life and more of a ‘Visitor’ in my personal life. This is mostly because from my experience, using some popular social media sites (i.e. Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat), it’s difficult to keep up-to-date with daily life online as well as in ‘real life’, so in the last few years I’ve gradually become more removed from social media. However, I am very aware of the benefits of using the web for interactive purposes, which I am currently exploring through this blog.

Word Count: 398


Lanclos, D. & Le Cornu, A., (2012). Digital Visitors and Residents. JISC, University of Oxford, OCLC, University of North Carolina. [Accessed: 11 February 2017]

Prensky, M., (2001) Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants, Part II: Do They Really Think Differently? On the Horizon. [Accessed: 11 February 2017],%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part2.pdf

White, D., (2008) Not ‘Natives’ & ‘Immigrants’ but ‘Visitors’ & ‘Residents’. TALL Blog (blog). [Accessed: 11 February 2017]

White, D., (2008) What exactly are your students up to online?. TALL Blog (blog). [Accessed: 11 February 2017]

White, D. S., & Le Cornu, A. (2011). Visitors and Residents: A new typology for online engagement. First Monday16(9). [Accessed: 10 February 2017],%20Aslib%20Proceedings%202009.pdf

[jiscnetskills] (2014, March 10). Visitors and Residents [Video File]. [Accessed: 11 February 2017]


Introductory Post

I should start by introducing myself. My name is Louise and I am currently in second year studying Sociology & Social Policy at the University of Southampton. I’m on my #UOSM2008 journey and I hope that all my readers enjoy it as much as I will. Just for some more information, here are a few questions & answers and a self test about myself you might want to know!


Q1 Why did you choose the module?

I want to learn about digital marketing and this module is the best introduction to the benefits of having online presence and how to create one.

Q2 What in particular do you want to learn from the module?

There are a few things I want to learn. The first is, essentially, how to use a blog! Recently there have been a lot of “blogger personalities” who have built their whole careers around using a blog and reaching a dedicated audience. I enjoy reading blogs myself and I’m excited to have the chance to make my own. As I have also mentioned, I’ve developed an interest in digital marketing which stemmed from a recent internship I did which involved working in trademarking, and would like learn about how to make use of all the platforms available online.

Q3 Which degree programme are you studying?

BSc Sociology & Social Policy

Q4 Have you studied online before?

No this is my first time, and I’m looking forward to the experience.


Rating at start of module Comments
Accessing, managing and evaluating online information 3 From my experiences studying my degree, I’ve developed a good amount of experience in doing research and evaluating the reliability of online sources.
Participating in online communities 1 Although I have a decent social network presence (e.g. Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram), I mostly use them to browse, so I would like to become more of a participant on these and other forums.
Building online networks around an area of interest 1 Starting this blog is the first time I’ve built or been a part of an online network around any area of interest or research. This is definitely a skill which I think will be useful.
Collaborating with others on shared projects 1 With the modules I have done as part of my degree thus far, I haven’t had many opportunities to do engage in group work.
Creating online materials (text, audio, images, video) 2 Most of my experiences with the creation of online material has come during high school and internships, where I’ve developed flow charts, posters and some very short videos.
Managing your online identity 2 I’d say that my online identity, though I haven’t got a large online presence, is managed quite well in terms of how frequently I use it and what I post. That being said, my aim is still to develop a more organised online presence.
Managing your online privacy and security 3 I would say my online privacy and security is quite proficient. All the accounts I have are set as private and some can’t even be searched by name.