Chris Brogan wrote Friday, I think it was, about how Twitter’s Lists are a way of resurrecting the “A-List,” and while they’re cool and useful have an exclusionary effect on people.
I just took a look into creating my first ever Twitter list. I’m listed on over 1500 at this writing, so I figured I’d give it a go. Immediately, I realized what I’m not going to like about them: they will exclude people. Sure, on the one hand, they’re a great way to group people and information together. For instance, I might make a list for news feeds. I might make a list about travel, like hotels and airlines.
But the minute you move into the people department, things get sketchy quick.
In talking with friends about it on Twitter, people immediately started DM-ing me, telling me that they felt left out or even LESS important because they weren’t on any lists. Lists are exclusionary by nature. They’re static. There’s a lot of reasons why they might not be all that pleasant for people.
Here, look at my list of programmers. It excludes me.
That makes me feel bad, according to Chris Brogan.
Except, well, I’m NOT a programmer so why should I be on a list of programmers?
Sorry Chris, but life isn’t fair. Steve Gillmor tells me all the time I’m not in control of how people view me. That’s why I don’t feel bad about lists I’m not on.
I CAN control my own lists, though, and even when I do my own lists I leave myself off of most of them. That does NOT make me feel bad.
Chris: I think you just got included on my list of people who have bad opinions about lists.
I think it’s pretty clear that Robert may have missed the point of Chris’s post. It’s not that people who aren’t programmers will feel excluded from a list of cool programmers – it’s people who are cool programmers feeling excluded from a list of cool programmers.
For instance – did you know that I created the world’s first free podcast hosting company? It was, at one point, host to two thirds of the world’s podcast producers. I programmed that thing all by myself. Top to bottom. Host to something like 6000-7000 podcasters.
Doesn’t that qualify me as a cool programmer? See, now I feel all excluded and stuff. Maybe miffed. A little sad. I may cry a little.
Actually, I exaggerate. It doesn’t bother me much – I don’t necessarily agree with Chris or Robert on this one. Creating lists is just something we as humans do. We all discriminate as a part of daily life.
By choosing my wife, I chose to discriminate against participating with all other women for certain activities.
By choosing a technology to use publicly or choosing a community to belong to, I choose to publicly discriminate against other competing tech or communities.
I’m all about some discrimination and exclusion.
I can see the problem from Chris’s perspective – there is something very limitiing about lists, too, particularly someone from the PR side of things – they’re all about bringing people into communities, and creating lists is a good way to irritate people who otherwise enjoy what you do and think they’re part of your community. It’s Dunbar’s number head-butting community curation, and Twitter’s lists are, as Chris says, very static and difficult to manage.
Robert needs to pause and re-read Chris’s post and respond to it again – and I think Chris maybe ought to clarify that for some people Lists might be a great feature, just not for him (Chris said that, actually, but is not obvious enough, hence Robert’s confusion).