About Me

Education, the knowledge society, the global market all connected through technology and cross-cultural communication skills are I am all about. I hope through this blog to both guide others and travel myself across disciplines, borders, theories, languages, and cultures in order to create connections to knowledge around the world. I teach at the University level in the areas of Business, Language, Communication, and Technology.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Residents and visitors

Andy Coverdale had an interesting post on his blog about Dave White's idea of digital "visitors" and "residents" in place of the concept for digital "immigrants" and "natives". I feel much more comfortable with the idea of visitor and residents as it allows for different generations and levels of engagement with technology, applications, and tools. As I commented on Andy's blog:

This appears soooo much more useful than natives and immigrants. It also makes me wonder about the students (regardless of generation) who are visitors, but we want to become residents. Does this also tie into online communities (i.e. you might be a visitor in one type of community, as I am to facebook, but a resident at another, as I am with ning)? How do we get people to become “residents”? I think the question of trust is a big issue.

When Andy asked me if I thought that this was determined by socio-technical or platform factors, I replied:

I guess one problem I had with the digital natives or immigrants was that fact that there was a uniform amount of knowledge in “technology”. I have a greater understanding of the technological underpinnings of new technology than my husband or children. But I would be considered an immigrant. But the fact is that technology continually changes and with it the socio-cultural structures. I was on Facebook within the first year that it was developed as a member of our University. It changed drastically when it was “opened” up. My kids use it differently than friends and relatives of my generation.

Within the technological structures, there can be multiple socio-cultural structures and practices. Just like habitat structures can be similar between urban, suburban, rural, and different countries, structures between technology can be similar. However, the town next to mine differs because of a different community feeling. Experience, ties to the community, understanding of communication cues between members of the community affect the way someone feels coming into a new community. My husband and I lived in a neighborhood for 7 years and never felt a part of the community and felt as if we were considered “visitors”. However, our current community, we feel like residents as we know how things work, who the players are, and the subtle communication cues.

I feel it is the same with technology in that some will always feel like technology visitors as they learn new technology. Some may always “fit in” immediately and be a resident where ever they go. Still others will be a visitor initially and then move to resident status depending on the technology and community support in using the technology. And finally, others will be visitors at some technologies (usually by choice) and residents at others. I think there is a lot more choice in the use of technology and a lot more community influence that creates trust in using a certain technology.

In a related post on wirearchy blog, they discuss the importance of revisiting socio-technical systems business design field. As they contend, the "social business design" sounds very similar for the socio-technical systems business design theories in organizational development. However, the education field has continued to this body of literature over the last decade.

I think what is relevant in both of these fields is that it is hard to disassociate the tools that have been adapted for use in education and business from the social structures that continue to evolve. New tools are created as there is a social need; and tools are "retooled" with new social practices that develop around the new tools and the "retools". This is especially important to recognize in virtual groups, organizations, and workplaces. However, it also spills over into the personal life and the line between "personal" and "work" becomes blurred.

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