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You should avoid position:absolute unless you know exactly what you are doing (and those who know what they are doing avoid using position:absolute altogether).
position:absolute gets its top/right/bottom/left positioning "relative" to the browser window. It ignores all html around it and actually takes itself out of the two dimensions of a flat html file.
position:relative simply allows you to designate a parent box that lets you force position:absolute element(s) relative to it (rather than the browser window).
No one uses position:absolute these day because it is uncontrollable, a cross-browser nightmare and not scalable/liquid/elastic/wrappable.
Floats are the proper way to create your wireframe CSS layout.