Discuss the arguments for and against having more than one online identity.

According to Internet Society “Your identity is the sum of your characteristics, including your birthplace and birthday, the schools you attended, your shoe size… [etc.]”. These things make up who you are and what you do.

Online identity differs from real world identity due to the way people present themselves and the way they interact on the internet compared to real life. The video below explains in more detail.

Partial identities are all these different representations that make up your identity. These partial identities are made when you provide personal information online such as signing up for email, ordering things online and using sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn. Essentially you are leaving a string of partial identities every time you use the internet.

What springs to mind when you think of an online identity? Personally, before even reading around the subject the one thing in my mind was MTV’s ‘Catfish’. The term catfish is defined by Urban Dictionary as “someone who pretends to be someone they’re not using Facebook or other social media to create false identities, particularly to pursue deceptive online romances.” The show encourages people to apply if they are unsure about the true identity of the people they are speaking to online.

According to Aleks Krotoski an expert in online comcommunity “Facebook… believes authenticity is linked to a person’s photo stream” However the show Catfish shows just how easy it is to steal people’s photos to make multiple accounts on various social media and pass it off as their own. I for one have now restricted people from viewing my pages and increased my privacy settings especially on Facebook to ensure none of my personal information can be taken.

However this is obviously the very worst case scenario of multiple identities online and not everyone’s intention is to ‘catfish’ in order to make friends etc. A positive of having multiple identities online allows users to be social on sites where only their friends can see, but then equally have accounts purely for professional purposes such as LinkedIn. Do you represent yourself  the same on LinkedIn as you do on Facebook? I can imagine the answer is probably no, unless you decided to wipe your Fresher’s week pictures from Facebook. Personally I keep all my social media very restricted because I am conscious that potential employers will search for my accounts online and have access to my social life. This is a scary idea as even in the real world there is a strict divide between work and social life and I think it is important to keep this divide online too.


Backer. S. (2010). Catfish. Available: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=catfish. Last accessed 25th Oct 2016.

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

Jetsetshow. (2010). 7 Steps To Building Your Online Identity. Available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2UlcOX1fZW4&feature=youtu.be. Last accessed 25th Oct 2016.

Joseph. M. (2012). CATFISH: THE TV SHOW TRAILER . Available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CMA4x7aXJT0. Last accessed 25th Oct 2016.

Krotoski, A. (2012). Online identity: is authenticity or anonymity more important? . Available: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2012/apr/19/online-identity-authenticity-anonymity. Last accessed 25th Oct 2016. Lee, N. (2016). Having multiple online identities is more normal than you think. Available: https://www.engadget.com/2016/03/04/multiple-online-identities/. Last accessed 25th Oct 2016.

rdigitalife. (2012). Identity: Are you the Same Person Online & Offline? . Available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=10K137WU9gw. Last accessed 25th Oct 2016.

Top image: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/98/b0/f4/98b0f411ef86d53f7d598f22de3aaa50.jpg


Reflection on Topic 1

Before this module I had never been exposed to Word Press, used a blog or used twitter for anything other than retweeting funny cat videos. This module has opened my eyes to this new way of learning which is not only challenging but has the potential to be very rewarding.

I firstly commented on Hannah’s post as it was clearly laid out and easy to read. She included a video which made her post more interactive and enjoyable. I especially liked at the end where she placed herself on the continuum and backed it up with reference to her online habits. My second comment was on Xiaolu’s post. They made a point of saying that Prenksy’s ideology was too one sided which I agreed with and thought it was an excellent point to make. However, I also felt that they spent too much time speaking about digital ‘natives’ and digital ‘immigrants’ instead of focusing on digital ‘visitors’ and digital ‘natives’.

I enjoyed receiving feedback from other students as it made me go back and re-read my post. Both Chris and Tobie’s comments agreed on the fact that my blog post was not as personal as it could have been. Unfortunately the part I struggled with the most was trying to condense my points to make them concise and fit within the word limit. On reflection it is clear that I should have focused more on my own opinions as well as being concise.

What have I learnt? Well, I now understand the concept of digital ‘visitors’ and digital ‘residents’ and the idea that it is not a case of being one or the other but rather where on the continuum do you fit i.e. Are you closer to digital ‘visitor’ or digital ‘resident’?


I also have more of an understanding of how to create a blog which I hope will become even clearer as the weeks go on.


Comment links:





Topic 1 – Explain the concept of digital “visitors” and “residents” drawing upon your reading and your own online experiences to date in support of the points that you make.

Previously the greatly criticised Marc Prenksy made the comparison of digital “natives” and digital “immigrants” in his work ‘Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants’ (2001). To summarise, Prenksy suggests that all students today are “native speakers of the digital language”, they have been born into a generation where they have always known the internet and as a result it has become embedded in their daily life. The term digital “immigrant” refers to the older generation who did not have access to the internet while growing up and as such although they try to adapt to this new development, they cannot completely adjust.

However, this theory has multiple flaws and as such the concept of digital “visitors” and digital “residents” has taken over. This concept differs from Presnky’s idea of digital “natives” and digital “immigrants” in that it refers to the way in which people use the internet rather than the specific divide in generations (White & Cornu, 2011).

This video briefly summaries the key differences between digital “visitors” and digital “residents”.

Digital “Visitors” and Digital “Residents” refers to how people use the internet. For example a digital ‘visitor’ does not have a complete understanding of the web, they merely use it to carry out a task that will benefit them such as booking a holiday. Often a ‘visitor’ will choose a time to go online, “they always have an appropriate and focused need to use the web but don’t ‘reside’ there.” (University of Oxford) Additionally, visitors tend not to have any real identity on the web, they are guests rather than members of sites and refrain from setting up profiles. Visitors have to be able to achieve something online otherwise they will avoid it.

Digital ‘residents’ approach the internet in a completely different manner in that they are ‘at home’ when online. They use the web for practicalities such as banking, research and shopping but mainly use it to socialise through sites such as Facebook and twitter. This is where ‘visitors’ and ‘residents’ differ. They are comfortable sharing their opinions online and use the web in almost all aspects of life but particularly for socialising and when seeking information or research.

Since the idea of digital ‘visitor’ and digital ‘resident’ is on a continuum it is very difficult to know where on this spectrum an individual fits. However, there is no arguing that today’s society relies almost entirely on the web to function and people today are moving closer and closer to becoming digital ‘residents’.


Prensky, M. (2001) “Digital natives, digital immigrants,” On the Horizon, volume 9, number 5, [Online] Available at: http://www.marcprensky.com/writing/Prensky%20-%20Digital%20Natives,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf, Last Accessed 10th Oct 2016

Ravenhil. L. (2015). Digital Residents Vs Visitors. Available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IM2JPca9Rwk%20 .  Last accessed 12th Oct 2016.

University of Oxford, Not ‘Natives’ & ‘Immigrants’ but ‘Visitors’ & ‘Residents’. Tall Blog. Available: http://tallblog.conted.ox.acresident.uk/index.php/2008/07/23/not-natives-immigrants-but-visitors-residents/. Last accessed 11th Oct 2016.

White. D. Visitors & Residents. Available: http://daveowhite.com/vandr/. Last accessed 11th Oct 2016.

White. D, Le Cornu. A. (2011). Visitors and Residents: A new typology for online engagement. First Monday. 16 (5),



Hello to all,

As you may or may not be aware (depending on if you are taking the module UOSM2033 at the University of Southampton) this is my blog for ‘Living and Working on the Web’.

This is the first time I have ever done anything like this and the idea of absolutely anyone being able to see this terrifies me. Nevertheless, I am going to jump straight in to this module and take full advantage of the opportunity to experiment with blogging and its educational advantages. I am hoping this module will expand my understanding of how I can use the internet to my advantage and also develop my skills to aid me in the future.

Watch this space for my regular updates as I progress through the module.