December 30, 2011

I don’t think in lists

It's list season. Actually it's list season all year round. Writing a post with a numbered list seems the way many people think. Reminds me of my daughter's obsession with rankings. Come to think about it, I've written on this topic a few times so I may be repeating myself but as I saw a steady stream of tweets today linking to a plethora of posts I tweeted out this:

A little snarky? Perhaps. But it seems to me this type of blogging is become all too prevalent. Maybe it's just a lack of creativity, or maybe it's just not my style. It just seems that that cumulative nature of these posts send a subtle message that answers can be neatly packaged into lists of 10. (actually, I'm seeing more top 12 and 11 lists just to shake it up a bit) Doug Johnson even recommends it. But since Doug often writes with his tongue in his cheek and never takes himself too seriously, I read it with a grain of salt. Ryan Bretag actually nails it pretty well with this quote:

We love to talk about lists. Just recently, I watched another 21st Century skills list get tossed about on Twitter with “oohhs and ahhs”.

And that is just it. These lists are so attractive. They’re easy. They have the instant “wow factor”. But what do they offer beyond that initial “wow” that has a meaningful impact on your organization, department, or you yourself?

Look, if you've written a post or two with a numbered list, relax, I'm not attacking you. Lots of people like list type posts. I just find them slightly lacking in creativity and at times simplifying complex problems. There's a tendency to try and be definitive, to have the answers. Sometimes we do, but I've seen too many "top 50 bloggers to follow" and "the best 20 videos for educators" lists to turn me off of that genre. These lists are far from definitive and even with disclaimers, that's how they are often viewed. I try not to immediately think in terms of ranking or even listing. In education and learning, few things can be ranked and ordered or even listed. Some people love that stuff.  I'm just not a big fan.