While many of us are reading through end of year top ten lists or 2008 top trends lists, Craig Roth over at Knowledge Forward blog has a post on "Why Do we Care About Top 10 Lists" that outlines some key ideas as to why we all love top ten lists and how editorialized lists are ideal ways to consume certain types of content.
I tend to agree with Roth that the “top 10 list” phenomenon is a good analogy to what some "technologies at the intersection of portals, RSS, and social software are trying to do: filter out all the noise and just bring me the important information, encapsulated, all in one handy spot. It is a commonly recognizable form of attention management".
Roth outlines the typical process of compiling lists as follows:
Integration: Connecting up with all the event streams, information sources, and data
Categorization: Determining what subject the event falls into
Rating: Prioritizing this bit of news. This is probably the toughest part of the process at the moment, but attempts have been made in the form of social ratings engines (Digg) and attention profiling (APML).
Personalization: Lining up the category against the set of subjects that you are personally interested in, either through explicit declaration or implicitly.
Display: A UI that presents the user with capsules on each of the items and allows the user to notice, track, and manage the information
In the Enterprise when the need exceeds preset filters, there are usually people who are tasked with going through this process or sometimes the process is hired out to a 3rd party. In the consumer space, as new functionality like the Google Shared feeds is made available we will find people we trust to become our subject domain experts. There are also technologies like APML (Attention Profile Markup Language) that is mentioned in the post and i have been posting on along with many other bloggers that could facilitate the creation of 'top lists' based on our attention.
From his About page, Craig is currently with the Burton Group as an analyst covering enterprise portals, content globalization, collaboration platforms, attention management (information overload, interruption science), virtual worlds, and the executive view of collaboration.