The Problem with Lists

Let’s talk about social networking for a minute. For example bloggers and twitter – and related of course but those are the two things I am thinking most about. There are some good lists out there. For example I like Scott McLeod's list of top 50 education bloggers. And I have been scanning through the tag lists at lately. The edtech and education tags in particular. I’m looking for interesting people to follow when I look at those lists. And I do find some. But honestly I think I miss a lot as well.

I mean sure it is probably a safe bet that someone who makes Scott’s list is writing interesting stuff. After all that list is based on Technorati lists which is based on how many people link to those blogs. People tend to only link to interesting stuff. And the twitter list is based on number of followers. Once again boring people don’t pick up followers. But what about the long tail?

By the long tail I mean those bloggers and twitter users who are interesting and useful and potentially great but who have not been around for many people to find them yet. These top 50 lists don’t help people find these gems in the rough. Oh sure I might find them if I look far enough down the list of education tagged people in WeFollow. But at 461,000 people (can that be right?) I’m not sure I have time to check them all out.

For this reason I think we (all of us) need to help people discover new people to follow – be it on Twitter or bloggers or what ever. I love the idea of #followfriday on Twitter. Follow Friday calls for people to recommend other Twitter users for people to follow. Often these come in a theme. It’s all very individual but if is a way of introducing people to others. I think it helps. With blogging there are blog rolls and links embedded in posts of course. These are very helpful and are a long standing tradition in blogging. So maybe when you visit a blog from a Top list you will want to see who they link to. And when you look at a new Twitter feed see who they follow.

Of course that only works if the top bloggers and Twitterers follow more than just the other top of the list people. I think that is also a good idea, a healthy idea, to prevent getting caught in an echo chamber. In a sense I feel like the A-list bloggers and Twitterers serve their audience best when they widen the circle and bring more people into the conversation. It’s not always how many people read/follow you. Sometimes it is about how wide a circle you are learning from.

So help me find good people to read (blogs) and follow (Twitter.) And I’ll try to do the same for you. Thanks.

PS: I’m on Twitter at

Comments (4)

  1. Rick Regan says:

    Do you follow Keith Devlin (Devlin’s Angle)? He talks a lot about math education. He’s at

  2. Rick Regan says:

    (of course I meant READ, not FOLLOW — I don’t think he’s on Twitter.)

  3. Joe Corbett says:

    I saw you added yourself to the NECC 2009 Roll Cal on our public Google Doc spreadsheet. What do you think of this community driven style of creating lists of people?

  4. AlfredTh says:

    I love community lists. I’ve added myself to a number of them over the years and been added to a number of moderated lists as well. I visit them regularly looking for people to follow. But seeing people in conversation always helps more than anything I think. That is why it is so important that people take part in conversations when they have something to say.

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