I was recently commissioned to produce an informal cheat sheet about social media and social networking. The aim of the project is to help Baby Boomers better understand their children and grandchildren, and to better navigate the ever-shifting currents of the intertubes, possibly to wade into the waters themselves.
At first I figured there must already be something out there, but the more I searched, the less I found. Aside from a typically dry and vague Wikipedia page and a bunch of charts geared towards designers or advertisers/SEO experts, there wasn’t much for the general public. But this is a good thing! Because it meant I could actually make a contribution to society (…I know, I’m laughing too).
By the time I finished the cheat sheet and shipped it off to the client, it had morphed into a detailed “educational supplement” and handy deskside reference to the web. (It looks great printed & laminated, too! It won’t be out of date for another few weeks, I promise!) During the design process I also realized that oh so many other people I’ve met could likely benefit from something similar—my own parents included.
So, I’m sharing it with you all here, for you to spread to anyone else in your lives who might benefit from increased internet fluency. Enjoy!
*Caveats & Disclaimers*
- As I mentioned, this is an informal cheat sheet, not a dutifully fact-checked compendium. I put the bare minimum of research into this, relying mostly on my own knowledge base and personal internet explorations over the last decade or more. The “Core Audience” column in particular is half-sarcastic conjecture, with a dollop of intuition and a pinch of half-remembered data. I did try to get the “# of Users” column correct, though.
- Yes, I know I missed [insert your favorite niche social media site here]. Again, I stuck with the basics. But it’s hard to argue with importance of knowing at least half of my list, based on traffic alone.
- My Internet Glossary of Terms is also obviously woefully incomplete. But based on conversations I’ve had with n00bs and…people with accumulated wisdom, the few things I did include should give some useful perspective, with some bias toward my own interests.
- I don’t shy from using the full, glorious breadth of the English language, so if your grandmother’s neighbor is sensitive to swears, they are welcome to learn about this stuff from another source.