Lists have always been a great way of organizing your thoughts but in this era of ever-shrinking attention spans they can also make an effective communication tool. Here are the top reasons why I think lists work so well:
- Lists force writers to organize their thoughts.
- The basic structure of a list is simple and easy to understand.
- Lists eliminate fluff.
- Lists help break up content into manageable chunks that are easy to scan.
- The average four-year-old can count to 10 … which means that the current U.S. market for top 10 lists is estimated at 285,706,894 people.
- 10 Reasons Why We Love Making Lists
- Top 10 BP Gaffes During the Gulf Oil Spill
- The three rules about conspicuous consumption for embattled CEOs
- 10 Ways to Find More Pleasure Every Day
- 10 Lessons From the Coolest Company Anywhere
- Is Your Blog the Unpopular Kid?
- How to Kill a Vampire Project
- Why our Brains Like Lists
A counterpoint (i.e. lists suck):
- January 2, 2013 – Umberto Eco says that we like lists because we don’t want to die: http://m.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/12/umberto-eco-on-why-we-love-lists/266728/.
- June 18, 2013 – Derek Thompson discusses the “tyranny ” of lists on the Atlantic: “It’s well understood that lists and rankings can be fixed. But … research makes a bigger claim: That fixed rankings can dupe us into liking things that we wouldn’t have liked if they hadn’t been ranked more highly. The placebo effect of most-popular lists suggests that better-reviewed meals might actually taste better; more-downloaded songs might actually sound better; articles with more Facebook likes might actually feel more delightful to read. When we outsource our navigation of the world to other peoples’ opinions, we lose, in a small way, our ability to individually evaluate the quality of our experience.” (Link: http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/06/the-tyranny-of-most-popular-lists/276847/.)
- December 12, 2014 – An overview of 30 years of Top 10 lists on David Letterman (link: http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/culturebox/2014/12/letterman_top_ten_a_statistical_analysis_of_30_years_of_top_ten_lists_from.single.html