Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Why websites love lists

Websites looking to attract curious visitors can always count on numbered lists to draw clicks.
People love lists. The idea that things can be organized into top 10 lists is fascinating to people. They inevitably want to read the list to see if it conforms to their worldview. Lists of the best or worst in a category generate passionate debates among readers.
For instance, when the Jan. 29 issue of Entertainment Weekly listed what it considered “TV’s 50 Biggest Bombs Ever!” I had to complain on Twitter about one of its picks.
At No. 23, it selected “The ‘Lost’ rip-offs of 2005: ‘Surface’ (NBC), ‘Threshold’ (CBS) and ‘Invasion’ (ABC).”
First off, these weren’t “Lost” rip-offs. They were science-fiction shows that attempted to tap into the public’s desire for something other than lawyer shows and police procedurals. None of the three were remotely like “Lost.”
I’m not going to stand up for “Surface” and “Invasion,” but I will say that “Threshold” was one of the best shows of the last decade. It was exciting, thought-provoking and original. Unfortunately, it didn’t find an audience and was cut short in its first season.
But I digress.
My point is that lists get people interested and, in some cases, worked up.
That’s why they’ve become such a staple on the web.
There are websites devoted to aggregating interesting numbered lists (such as Listverse) and others that do it on a regular basis (such as the Huffington Post, CNet and Oddee).
I’m going to curate some of the lists I find most interesting here at Tech-media-tainment.
Here’s the first batch, which I call …

Science oddities

10 Most Fascinating Natural Phenomena (Oddee.com)

7 Man-Made Substances that Laugh in the Face of Physics (Cracked.com)

Photo: The mysterious moving stones of Death Valley, from Oddee list above.

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