Communications and Media

Social Media and Technology Glossary

Are you confused by some of the new words you run into on the internet? As new software and websites are developed for social interaction, new terms are needed to describe this technology and social media. Although the digital landscape seems to change on a daily basis, this glossary will give you a good start to help guide you through this fast changing environment.


Select the first letter of the word from the list above to jump to appropriate section of the glossary.

- A -

Aggregator: A software application that retrieves news from multiple sources and sorts them for the user.

App: A software application that performs a specific function on a computer or handheld device.

Archive: Older messages or articles that are collected into a specific location.

Avatar: A graphical image that represents a person.

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- B -

Blog: A web log that's updated with personal articles and entries from the author.

Blogosphere: All the blogs that are published on the internet.

Bot: A computer software program that runs automated tasks over the internet.

Buzz: Hot topics around the net. Also, a product from Google, "Google Buzz" to rate and share online stories and information

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- C -

Chat: Talking to one ore more people online. Usually short, quick conversation. Also, Instant Message (IM).

Click: To select a button or hyperlink to get to the next place.

Cloud computing: Where information is stored on a server that can be reached by other people often to work together.

Civic media: Any communication that strengths a community and fosters civic engagement.

Comments: Replies given by readers to a blog post or article.

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- D -

Data mining: Gathering information from the internet, usually unauthorized. Also called web scraping.

De.lic.ious: A social website that allows you to organize and share your favorite bookmarks.

Digg: A website that allows people to share content from around the internet.

Do-good network: An online community that attempts to change the world into a better place.

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- E -

Embedding: A hyperlink, photo, song or video that's incorporated into a web site so that the viewer doesn't have to go to another web site to experience it.

End-user Agreement: Agreement with the person using technology or site about privacy and other terms and conditions.

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- F -

Facebook: A social network on the internet that allows people to input personal information, invite friends and share photos.

Feed: Updated content that's sent to subscribers on a frequent basis.

Flickr: A web site that allows you to organize and share photos with other users.

Folksonomy: A way to index information by using keywords, labels or tags by consumers or users rather than the organization selecting them.

Friending: Inviting a person to be your "friend" on a social network web site.

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- G -

Geotagging: The adding of geographical information to various media, such as photos or video.

Google: Was once just a search engine, but has taken over the internet with their other apps and widgets. They have even ventured into cell phone browsers. Known for their graphics on special days.

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- H -

HTML: Hypertext Markup Language is used to tell a web site how to display images and text.

HTTP: Hypertext Transfer Protocol how the web exchanges code with remote servers that store the information with the web page that presents the information.

Hyperlink: A link that a reader can follow to another document or page. Also, hotlink.

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- I -

Instant messaging (IM): A quick way to chat with another person on the computer using a common IM software tool.

IRL: "In Real Life" not online or in the virtual world.

Interactive: Not static or staid, interacting with information and others around the world. Can be changed and updated., 

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- J -

Java: A programming language that allows web sites to perform a variety of functions.

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- K -

Keylogger: A computer program that records a person's keystrokes; sometimes used by thieves to steal personal information.

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- L -

Lifecasting: Around-the-clock coverage of a person's life that's broadcast over the internet.

Lifestreaming: The process of collecting a person's presence on the internet into one centralized web site.

LinkedIn: A web site used by professionals to network and share resumes, answer questions and connect.

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- M -

Mashup: Combining multiple applications to create a brand new web service. Also could be combining any different files together to create something new.

Message boards/Forums: Areas where people are able to discuss a variety of topics and find answers to questions they may have.

Microblogging: A form of blogging in which the messages to readers are very short.

Multimedia: Photos, songs and videos that are displayed on a web site.

MySpace: An online social web site that allows you to share information, photos and songs with other users.

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- N -

News Aggregator: An application that collects news from multiple web sites to allow a person to read it from one place.

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- O -

Online community: A group of people that use social web sites and media tools to communicate.

OpenID: A sign-on system that allows a person to log on to many web sites using a single digital identity.

Opt-in: Electing to receive email, notifications or other communications from a web site.

Opt-out: Electing not to receive email, or notifications.

Overshare: Providing too much information about yourself that people might not be interested in or want to know. Also, Too much imformation (TMI).

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- P -

Phishing:type of fraud in which an e-mail message from an alleged legitimate website is used to lure a victim to a phony website that asks for personal data, such as credit card and social security numbers.

Podcast: An audio file that can be downloaded and listened to later by subscribers.

Profile: A personalized page on a social network web site that includes a variety of information, including personal details and photos.

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- Q -

Quantcast: A web service that's used to measure internet traffic and readership data.

Query: The process of requesting particular information in a search engine or database.

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- R -

Real-Time: In the "now" rather than at a later date.

RSS: Short for Really Simple Syndication, it's a web feed that automatically sends content to subscribers of the feed.

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- S -

Search engine bot: An automated program that explores the World Wide Web; also called a web crawler.

Social network: An online community in which users can share personal information and photos.

Spam: Unsolicited junk e-mail that's sent to multiple people for usually commercial reasons or to commit fraud.

Spearphishing: A form of phishing that sends a fraudulent e-mail that contains personal information to a select group of people to target a specific company or organization.

Splogs: Spam blogs that don't provide their own or real content.

Streaming: Video or audio that can be watched online but not stored permanently.

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- T -

Tags: Keywords attached to an article, photo or video that helps readers find relevant content.

Tweet: A short post on Twitter (see below), a social blogging system. Consisting of 140 characters, including spaces.

Twitter: An online community in which users post short blog messages to other users.

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- U -

Unfriend: The act of deleting someone from your list of friends on Facebook or MySpace.

Upload: To send a file from your computer to a web site.

URL Shortener: A program used to shorten long URL (http://:www...) so they'll fit in a Tweet.

User-generated: Information uploaded by the site user rather than its developer. Could be comments, blogs, images and more.

Username: Name, commonly not your own, used to create an account on a site to post comments and information.

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- V -

Virtual: Not actual or real. Using "virtual" money to play games, or a model on an ecommerce store that looks like you to try on clothes. Could also be an avatar.

Virus: A software program that attacks and infects computers.

Vlog: A blog that contains video entries.

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- W -

Web 2.0: The second wave of the internet that spawned social media. Web 3.0 is

Webcasting: Broadcasting a meeting or presentation over the internet.

Webinar: A seminar that's broadcast over the internet.

Widget: An application on a web site that's used to add dynamic and interactive content.

Wiki: Most commonly, Wikipedia. A place where anyone can contribute to a body of knowledge. Could be on any level.

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- X -

XML: Extensible Markup Language is a programming language used to create customized tags not available with HTML.

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- Y -

YouTube: A web site used for posting videos that allows people to comment on them.

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- Z -

'Zine (or e-zine): A magazine that only exists on the internet.

Zombie keys: Another name for special characters that aren't shown on the keys of a standard keyboard.

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