Marketing people love lists. They love making them, and then they love criticizing them. While the purpose of these lists is often unclear and their selections by default arbitrary, they can be said to offer a way to sort through people and bubble up those that are - by some criteria - better, more interesting, or more worthy attention than others.
Lists remind me of mass media. If you want to draw an instantaneous attention to something, put it on TV. If you want to draw attention to something or someone online, make a list. And here's the problem: web is not mass media. Web hates lists: it is a network, and if are to believe the bulk of research on how influence spreads there, we should value more a portfolio of "regular" individuals versus those who are somehow exposed (or, should I say, have a "voice"). Web is a cacophony of voices - and it likes it that way.
In practical terms, that means that we would be better of with a number of lists, or better yet, with no lists at all. Alas, things don't work that way. If we brush off all ego-grudge aside, there's something to lists. Why? Because people also display herd behavior, are easily influenced by others, and are prone to do what everyone else does. It just makes their life easier and simpler: why think, when we can just imitate?
I myself am prone to the same faulty reasoning, as it has recently been fairly pointed out to me. For example, only 20% of people I follow on Twitter are women. Why? Well, let's see. If people imitate each other, and if same people are consistently promoted, than the likelihood that they as hubs are going to get bigger can only increase. Nothing succeeds as success, as the saying goes. This also leads to decreased diversity and to so-called echo-chamber. In network terms, the world can only become smaller.
And that's exactly where the problem is. Are we, as a marketing industry, becoming an increasingly shrinking world? If so, the future is not bright: we are in the vast - and expanding - distributed network of the web that does not operate on the principle of lists. So why do we, whose job is to understand this world? As anthropologists would say, the best way to understand a culture is to become part of it.
For the sheer fun (and fairness) purposes, I put together yes, a list, of people that amuse me, inform me, educate me, and entertain me on a daily basis online. I'd prefer not to have a list at all, since I love serendipity and chance of the web, but I gathered people who rarely, if ever, make any other marketing list. But since it's Friday, let's make marketing world a little bigger.