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
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- 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
- January 1, 2018 – Lists as a bulwark against the chaos of 2017: “[Lists] have also, in their way, made arguments—for stability, for schedules, for the general assumption that some things must transcend the caprices of individual people. Those lists have, with all their sweeping assessments of movies and TV shows and albums and books and people—with all their cheeky declarations about the proper way to arrange those declarations in the first place—reclaimed some of the order that 2017 has so effectively destabilized.” (link: https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2017/12/the-quiet-radicalism-of-the-year-end-list/549293/