If you’re over 35, you will be secretly relieved by David Pogue’s helpful column in today’s New York Times. Bless his heart – he’s written concise, easy-to-understand explanations of the hot social networking services that everybody assumes you understand. (Apparently the Times got an outraged reaction from the Internet literati when it tried to ban the use of the word “tweet” in articles last month. How could anyone not know what that means?)

The article covers Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, FourSquare, and Yelp. A sample:

FACEBOOK This is the biggest social networking service, with almost 500 million members — 22 percent of everyone on the Internet — and it’s growing by 5 percent a month.

It’s a glorified “facebook”— name-and-photo directory — of the sort that colleges distribute to incoming freshmen. (In fact, Facebook started out exactly that way, as an electronic facebook at Harvard.) You answer as many questions about yourself as you feel comfortable sharing: your name, contact information, relationship status, favorite music and maybe a few photos. Then you search for friends, past or present. When they accept your friend invitations, you can now see their Facebook pages and they can see yours.

Why you’d bother: Facebook is great for sharing news, photos and videos with people who might care; for finding long-lost friends (or snooping on old lovers); for joining groups that support various causes or interests; for sending messages (it’s somewhat more streamlined than regular e-mail); and for playing games with each other (FarmVille, Mafia Wars).

Why not: Facebook keeps making policy and programming blunders that expose personal information to other Web sites. It also lets its advertisers place ads on the pages of very targeted members: divorced 45-year-olds in Texas, for example.

Similar: MySpace (a teenage and preteenage crowd, heavily focused on pop music and do-it-yourself page designs), Bebo and many others.

Very helpful article – go get caught up on some of the latest catchphrases!

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