Crafting a Digital Presence With Visitor & Resident, and Constellation Mapping

The two activities on this page will step you through an initial Visitor and Resident Map of your online presence, then using some of the places that you have identified in that work to create a constellation map of your activities. once you’ve done the activities on this page you can start to make a plan for how you are going to continue to build out and maintain your online presence in the longer term.

 Visitor and Resident Mapping

The Visitor and Resident Map is helpful in that it gives you an opportunity to critically think about the places and spaces you inhabit on the internet, both in terms of those where you leave some sort of artifact intentionally and places where you are simply visiting and using the tools, but not really intentionally leaving evidence of you having been there.

To break this down a little bit more:

Visitor: The web as a series of tools and a pool of information. You are not leaving a social trace of your being there.

Resident: The spaces and places where others are, where you express yourself or work on elements of your identity. You leave evidence of your visit there through posts, comments, or other work attributed to you.

source: V&R Mapping by David White

In addition to considering where you are a visitor and where you are a resident, you will also be considering where you use these tools for personal use versus where you use them for professional use. If you are a student you will need to think a little about the future as most of the work you do right now is probably very work/professional related or clearly personal.  However many of the places that are purely personal now (e.g. social media may be something you don’t think of as professional) may have some bearing on your professional life in the future.

Example of a visitor and resident map. Map is a rectangle and contains an X axis with Visitor on the left side and resident on right, and y axis with personal at the top and professional at the bottom. Reading the map from left to right and top to bottom. Browsing web is written along the y axis on the left side, work email is at the bottom left corner. In the middle of the page on the y axis youtube is about 1/4 way down from top, cloud storage is in the middle, and discussion boards is about 3/4 way down from the top. Moving to the right Instagram is written along the Y axis about 3/4 of the way across the X axis on the page, facebook is also along the Y axis and just to the right of instagram. Porfolio is in the lower right corner of the page.
Example Visitor & Resident Map

To get started with Visitor and Resident map

  1. Take a sheet of paper and a pen or pencil (you can also have colored pencils or markers if you want to add color to your map)  and draw an X and Y axis on the paper. 
  2. On the x-axis, you’ll label “Visitor” on the left side and “Resident” on the right side, on the y-axis you will label “Personal” at the top and “Professional” at the bottom. 
  3. Start to think about all of those places that you inhabit on the internet in both the visitor and the resident mode. You may wish to take a minute or two to write some ideas down in a list.
  4. Now start mapping by writing down the place’s name in the area where it seems to correspond the best. For example, if you do a lot of posting on Instagram of your personal life then you might list Instagram far to the right and toward the top of the paper so it would be heavily in the Resident personal category. Your MSU email address may be very much in the lower left corner of the paper because you probably use it primarily for school work or your job, and email doesn’t really leave a presence on the internet in a resident way. 
  5. Take about 5 minutes to draw out your map and consider the different places and ways you use the internet. you may find that some of these are used in various ways and or a couple of very specific ways. Be creative about how you map and be sure to make a key for yourself if you are using colors or shapes to denote something specific so you know what you were meaning when you come back to this map at a later time.

Constellation Mapping 

Bear Constellation

Mapping your online presence into a Constellation of Activities is a way of engaging actively in curating your digital presence. Just like a constellation in the night sky, your digital constellation map identifies a number of different points that when connected together represent a story, in this case, the story of you and your professional work.

To make your constellation map turn over your Visitor and Resident Map and use the back of the paper.

  1. Identify at least three to five active areas from your visitor and Resident map( or areas you wish to become more active in)  that are connected to your professional goals.
  2. Choose a place that serves as the center point of your constellation. this should be the place where you would direct a stranger who is asking about your work, and where you know there can be connections made to the other places where you engage professionally. this is most often something like a portfolio or a profile on a site like LinkedIn or Humanities Commons. 
  3. Now start to build out the constellation map from that center point. Place your other active areas on the sheet of paper and think about how connections are made from your Center Point to those areas, as well as from one area to another. For example, are you able to link the profile of a particular tool back to your portfolio, and/or to another place that you have listed?  Draw lines connecting the points that you know are already digitally connected/linked.
  4. As you draw the connections and think about this further, where are their areas that seem to be isolated or not connected at all? can you think about how to connect these? If it’s not obvious sometimes you may need to do a little searching about how to connect something back to another place, but at the very least you should be able to link from your portfolio site or main profile back to whatever activity site is in question.
  5. Once you have created your constellation map it’s time to work on your portfolio or main profile site.
sample constellation of activity map
Sample Constellation of Activities Map

Building/Updating Your Portfolio or Profile

Now that you have identified your main portfolio or profile visit it and ensure that you can log in and edit when you wish. Take your constellation map and look at the connections you drew, are all of these connections represented? Do any of them need to be updated or created? Take some time to ensure that your portfolio/profile is up to date. 

Curating and Long-Term Maintenance of Your Digital Presence

One of the most difficult things that we find in working with a digital presence is maintaining and curating it over a longer period of time. Many people set up their portfolio sites and link them to places where they are doing work but fail to put a plan into place for updates and maintenance. 

It can be helpful to think about a regular schedule for going back over your digital presence and ensuring that links are still working, that you are updating it with you are more recent work, and that you are removing or migrating old content as needed. Before you finish doing these activities take a few minutes to think about what would be a reasonable schedule for you to maintain and update your work. 

Take some time to write down a reminder in your calendar to return to this on a regular basis and maybe even give yourself a reminder of what you need to do when you do return to it in order to continue this process of curation and long-term maintenance. This update schedule can be weekly, monthly, or even at the beginning/end of every semester. You may also wish to take some time to write down where/how you access the different components of your presence so it’s easily accessible when you want to make updates.