List Challenges

As a fairly organized individual, I make lots of lists. I’m also big on film history, so these two characteristics led me to the mothership of all list-makers. is not just about movies. It is an archive of lists created from thousands of sources from around the globe. From the American Film Institute to 50 Must-Try Italian Foods, this website has an extensive amount of guidance for people of love lists. Needless to say, it was, at first, a wonderful addition to my internet usage.

An interesting twist, however, since I thought this was based on the contributions of the public user, I was surprised to see the following under what not to do in the “Create Your Own List” page:

Lists like ‘My Favorite Movies’ or ‘Books I Read This Year’ These lists don’t appeal to other people unless you are a famous movie critic. You are welcome to make them and keep them in your profile, just don’t publish them. You can’t earn stars and points for these kinds of lists. If you do publish a list like this it will be removed be an administrator.

A website that discourages personal lists, yet thrives on personal lists. What divides what is suitable and what is not? Well, we are back to the old battle of the internet allowing creators from all over the world share their opinion, while getting buried in the crowded database. You no longer have to have a publishing contract to say something, but can people even hear it? Or, a more frightening question, do people even care?

This message discourages users to make their own lists, and by doing so eases the inevitable extras that appear on completely free user sites like Youtube. I’m interested to see what happens if I, as a person with my own humble film review blog, tried to upload one of the many lists I have made for myself.

Here’s an example:  On my blog, I put together a list of the best years in film. The list ranges from 1902 to 1992. Now, since I’m simply a member of the Tumblr community, I hardly think my opinion really reaches that many people in the grand scheme of things. But many people haven’t seen Terrible Teddy, The Grizzly King (1902), one of the first silent films to use political satire. This film is featured on one of my lists. I made this list for my own pleasure, perhaps to organize my thoughts, and maybe some people might be interested.

This alarming message made me think, is this list worthy of the site? There are probably thousands of blogs out there that are just like mine, but should that prevent me from making any contributions?  In other words, according to this site, my list is nothing special.

This is the double-edged sword of our freedom on the internet. Anyone can write, perform, create art, you name it. We can have a voice with an active and engaged audience. On the other hand, we are pushed into the vortex of information. Computer users either stumble upon us, or purposefully seek us out with prior knowledge. There is no higher power to guide us into success, no CEO to give us promotions, we are simply throwing our ideas out there and hoping for the best.

So,, I appreciate the organizational skills, but perhaps there is something important about what books Sally read this year. No single voice should be discouraged from speaking.

 Photo from Creative Commons. 

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