January 17, 2001
Now, I hate to set you up for disappointment. Just because it is *my* favourite movie, it doesn't mean it will be yours. That is both the beauty and the limitation of the top ten list.
(or, if you are High Fidelity fan, the top five list)
What makes a list important, I think, is the status of the person who makes it. You may not pay attention to *my* movie recommendations, but you may pay careful attention to what the New York Times has to say. This is one reason why many businesses like Epinions and Amazon link recommendations to people. I may pay more attention to a starred "top 1000" reviewer than an unstarred one.
Luckily, a lack of 'official' status doesn't hold anyone back from sharing their personal favourites. In fact, its been largely underestimated how much we make decisions on the basis of word of mouth. For example, I place a particular co-worker's movie recommendation as high in my consideration as anything I read in my favourite paper. And I do so, because I think we share the same taste in movies.
It's an obvious thing: if you and I share similar taste, I will pay more attention to your recommendations. And even if I don't know you personally, I will be far more receptive to a your recommendation if I notice that your list of favourites and my list of favourites are eeriely similar. To cash in on this tendacy is Amazon (again) which encourages users to engage in listmania.
(Speaking of which, does anyone remember Firefly?)
Then comes the natural extention of this fact: many people see personal recommendations as a means of expressing who they are. It can be argued that is it the primary basis of the homepage or, nowadays, the weblog. You are what you link.
Not that I have much faith in this idea. A personal webpage never tells you the important things about yourself like how kind you are, how forgiving, how generous, how polite, how attentive, how talkative...
Which is probably why I have never made a top 10 list before now. But I'm going to do some - more as an exercise in self-reflection rather than a means to give my readers a better idea of who they are dealing with.