American Adults in the Dark About Latest Tech Buzzwords

REDMOND, Wash. — May 2, 2006 — Ever feel that technology is advancing at such a rapid pace that it’s impossible to keep up? Well, you’re not alone. According to a survey conducted by Harris Interactive for Windows Live™, 43 percent of adults in the United States somewhat or strongly agree that they are knowledgeable about the latest tech buzzwords and their meanings. One in three respondents (32 percent) indicated they are not sure how best to describe VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), 71 percent have never heard of RSS (Really Simple Syndication) and 46 percent indicated they aren’t clear on the definition of Internet tagging (a simple way to categorize and bookmark favorite Web pages so they can be quickly accessed from any PC) — three common services that are quickly gaining acceptance and popularity with Americans who use the Internet. This is especially true among women, who are significantly less likely to know the meaning of these terms than men, according to the survey.

The survey revealed the following facts:

  • Overall, only 43 percent of U.S. adults somewhat or strongly agree that they are knowledgeable about the latest tech buzzwords.

  • Seventy-seven percent of women say they are not knowledgeable about the latest tech buzzwords, compared with 45 percent of men.

  • Although 79 percent of U.S. adults are aware of blogs, approximately only 17 percent typically read them.

  • One in three U.S. adults are not sure how best to describe Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP).

  • Seventy-one percent of U.S. adults indicated they have never heard of RSS. Forty-two percent of men have heard of it, compared with only 18 percent of women.

  • Nearly one-half (46 percent) of U.S. adults are not sure what the term “Internet tagging” refers to.

“Many people seem to shy away from using new technologies,” said Windows Live Director Phil Holden at Microsoft Corp. “But just because these things sound complicated doesn’t mean that they are. These technologies are built into many services people already use on a daily basis, such as instant messaging and e-mail. Once people master the terminology, they will understand that what is behind these buzzwords can and in many cases already is helping them simplify their lives.”

Tech Buzzwords Defined

  • Blogs. Weblogs, or “blogs,” are personal Web sites where people can write entries and post photos on a specific topic of their choosing — from news to sports to music. Blogs — those that can be built on Windows Live™ Spaces ( — can also be used as online diaries or scrapbooks and are great ways to share news and photos with family and friends around the world.

  • VoIP. Voice over Internet Protocol allows people to have PC-to-PC voice conversations, or enables a person to use a PC to talk with someone who has access to a regular phone. Available through many instant messaging services, including Windows Live Messenger ( with Verizon Web Calling service, VoIP is a fun, easy and inexpensive way to communicate, which has made the service explosively popular. In fact, according to an article that appeared in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, in 2005 the number of U.S. subscribers more than tripled, to 4.5 million users.

  • Beta. Beta is the term used to describe Web sites or products that are still in a test, or preview, version before they are officially released. For example, Windows Live Local ( is currently in beta. The main benefit of making a beta version of a Web site available to the public is that people can provide useful feedback on how to make it better.

  • RSS. Really Simple Syndication allows Internet users to subscribe to the information that appeals to them online, such as updates to a blog or newspaper Web site they like. Once they subscribe to a Web site’s RSS feed, they can receive real-time updates to their e-mail inbox or a special Web page set up specifically to receive feeds from their favorite sites. One way to put RSS to use is with a site such as, which enables people to create a customized home page with their e-mail, local weather and all the RSS feeds they subscribe to on the page. It is like having a personalized newspaper that is updated 24 hours a day.

  • Tagging. Internet tagging helps people categorize information on the Internet. With so much to find online these days, this is a useful tool for discovering relevant information. Tagging is similar to the bookmarks people make on their personal Web browsers, except that tagged Web pages are stored on the Internet and can be accessed from any computer at any time. The tag is one word that describes the page, enabling someone to quickly find it again.

“The Internet and technology are moving at lightning speed,” Holden said. “It can be difficult for people to keep up with all the latest innovations without being put off by the confusing names and jargon. Once they scratch beneath the surface and pass the intimidating lingo, people can discover new and wonderful ways to harness the Internet and perhaps even become passionate about discovering the next big technology breakthrough.”

More information on Windows Live services and how to make the most of new technology is available at

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