Lists, Lists, and More Lists


The Year 2009 is almost over, and a new calendar decade is about to begin, so you know what that means: lists everywhere about the best of the year and the best of the last ten years.  Entertainment Weekly, The New York Times, Time magagazine, and almost every single other media outlet have all announced or will soon release their lists of the best (and the worst). 

It's a peculiar phenomenon in which writers try to tell us what were the top books, movies, TV shows, events, songs, and other things of the year or decade or century or millennium.  What's even more bizarre is that no two lists are ever the same.  I'm obviously talking about subjective lists based on opinions, not lists based on facts like bestselling books or highest grossing movies or highest rated television series and so on.  Sure, there are some overlaps, but for the most part, every list is different.  "Best" and "Worst" are not quantifiable, so why even have them?

The answer is simple -- to spark discussion.  Since no lists based on opinion can ever be identical, they are the perfect conversation pieces.  Readers agree or disagree with the selections or with the rationales for the selections.  They argue about the ranking order and they talk about what's been left off the lists.

Lists are becoming a popular form even beyond the "end of year" timeframe.  Mania.com, USA Today, Entertaiment Weekly, tons of blogs, all have discovered the attractive power of lists year-round.  Make a list and readers will come. 

Now that I think of it, I should have structured this blog entry as a list!

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