Tech Words Made Simple

Dropbox – a system that lets you create a file on one computer and open it from another. Your memoir, wedding plans or other documents are saved in the “cloud,” so you always have access to them and can allow access to the people you choose.

Facebook – the ultimate online networking site that can keep you in touch with family and with old, new and virtual friends without ever leaving your computer, phone or tablet. Learn what your Facebook “friends” are up to, share your thoughts and tell them your news (hint: whatever you ate for breakfast is not news). Billions of people are on Facebook, making the world smaller every day.

Flickr – a site where people store and share their videos and photos – billions of them! – and can use their own or other people’s images for personal messages, research or graphic use. Instagram – a way to share photos and videos online and modify them with cool filters to make them look moody, vintage or artistic. The photos are square, like the old Instamatic and Polaroid camera formats. People share their Instagram shots on social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Flickr.

LinkedIn – a social networking system to help people connect professionally. You may already receive LinkedIn invitations from friends, colleagues and people you barely know. LinkedIn is great if you want to keep your name out there for career opportunities. You list your profile with work background, education, skills and anything else you consider interesting. If you’re not in the job market, though, don’t feel bad about ignoring invitations; you won’t miss anything.

Pandora – the radio station you create. You sign up for Pandora and select various music and artists you like. Pandora then builds channels around each of your choices with similar kinds of music. You get to hear new music that way, and you can vote thumbs up or down anything you hear. Similar music sites include Spotify and Songza.

Pinterest – a virtual pinboard where people share themed photos based on events, hobbies and interests. You can post your own for like-minded people to enjoy – your favorite rhubarb recipes? – and re-pin others’ posts to build your own collection.

QR code – a square barcode that’s similar to the striped ones you see on store merchandise but is meant to connect you in other ways. If a product, event or organization interests you, scan your smartphone over its QR code and it will take you directly to the pertinent webpage.

Reddit – a social news and entertainment site where registered users, known as redditors, can vote “up” or “down” on content – whether it’s about a heroic act or kittens on a trampoline – and submit newsy tidbits of their own for redditing. People decide what they like, rather than news agencies.

Skype – friends and colleagues use this program to talk to each other virtually in person through live video. You need a camera on your computer (new ones come with built-ins), and the calls are free among Skype users. Similarly, iPhone users have FaceTime, which features video when they call each other.

SnapChat – a quickie messaging system that allows you to send photos or videos only to people you choose. A picture’s worth a thousand words – but only for up to 10 seconds! Then the photos are hidden from the recipient and deleted from the SnapChat server.

Twitter – online social networking that allows you to text the world in 140 characters or less. Friends can follow your comments and ruminations. You can follow people you admire (or love to hate). If you read a tweet you like, you can retweet it yourself for all your peeps to see. Don’t forget to give it a #hashtag (see below).

Internet Slang

Hashtags – a word or phrase with the prefix # that helps you find or start a topic being discussed on social media. For instance, you might go to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or another site and search for #glutenfree. It’s a great way to share short messages among others who share your interest.

Meme – an image, idea or style that spreads at warp speed throughout the culture, often through social media. If you haven’t seen it already, for instance, Grouchy Cat became a meme:








Selfies – self-portraits taken with camera phones or digital cameras. People often use these on social media such as Facebook, and can fancy them up with special effects via Instagram (see above).

Trending – obviously, this refers to the hot topics of the day. Of course, with social media that means the topics of the moment, since things change so quickly. Something is trending when some news – a world crisis or a celebrity’s breakup – is dominating Facebook, Twitter and the rest.