Why Are We So Obsessed With Lists?

At one time in your life you’ve probably made a to-do list.  I still use them, but in the form of emailing myself.  But lists have expanded their scope lately as technology, as in the form of me using my email as a notebook proves, enables us to expand our love of making and using lists.

Lists of Lists

If you’ve ever shopped on Amazon.com, you may have noticed a book cover on the sidebar, with the heading, “Listmania.” This means that someone has included that book on a list of their favorites, and they posted that list to share with other Amazon customers. If you’ve ever used Apple’s iTunes you know that you can create playlists of songs and share them with other people. These are both examples of companies harnessing the power of people to help cross-promote products. Another term for this is crowdsourcing. Social bookmarking sites like Delicious, Reddit, or Digg rely on users to submit content, which are essentially lists of things people have found on the web.  Then other people come behind them and use them, vote up or down, or share more links.  People like making lists so much that they have even created books of lists of books to read, called ‘reading lists‘, but one site has gone as far as to make lists of reading lists. Yes, you heard right. People are obsessed with lists.

Top 10 Lists

Late Night with David Letterman probably has the most popular top 10 list, but there are many more examples and in different ranges from people obsessed with the top 500 albums of all time to the top 10 Twitter trends of 2010. Watch the following video made by Google on the top news stories of 2010: