The list is the origin of culture. It’s part of the history of art and literature. What does culture want? To make infinity comprehensible. It also wants to create order — not always, but often. And how, as a human being, does one face infinity? How does one attempt to grasp the incomprehensible? Through lists, through catalogs, through collections in museums and through encyclopedias and dictionaries. There is an allure to enumerating how many women Don Giovanni slept with: It was 2,063, at least according to Mozart’s librettist, Lorenzo da Ponte. We also have completely practical lists — the shopping list, the will, the menu — that are also cultural achievements in their own right….And the list is certainly prevalent in the postmodern age. It has an irresistible magic.
All curation grows until it requires search. All search grows until it requires curation.
— Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans) December 18, 2015
Lists are an important part of culture, even low culture. It is not for nothing that the listicle became a mainstay of the modern web. As Benedict Evans writes in a post he calls “Lists are the new search.” In this post he talks about the challenge of building, maintaining and finding lists on the modern web. That being said he thinks there is room for aggressive curation in the age of Amazon and the like. He writes:
I wonder, as ecommerce matures, how much will be carved out into exactly the kind of spectrum of large and small retail beyond the big aggregators, and how far this removal of geographic constraint might make it easier rather than harder for them to take sales from the giants, in part by removing that density problem. That is, there might be a lot more lists, they might be hard to find, and not be part of some global aggregator, and that might be OK.
Sites like this one will never be huge. We have a smart, loyal audience that finds us and we are not a part of a global aggregator. And that is OK.