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Reiser file system and ext3 file system are two different incompatible methods for storing files. Your question is very like asking the difference between ntfs and fat32. Ext3 is based on ext2 but ext3 has journalling while ext2 does not. Reiser file system is completely different and is not compatible with other file systems.
If you are new to Linux I recommend starting with a different distribution. Slackware is probably the most difficult distribution to install and configure. You should try something like PCLinuxOS. It is a lot easier to get installed and configured and doing useful work.
ReiserFS gives a clear performance boost to systems with many small files, like what's scattered all over my desktop PC. In some specific instances as much as a 10X boost vs. ext2 or ext3 -- how's THAT for cool! Its use in servers was never recommended.