Friday, February 09, 2007

Ten things you need to know about "ten things you need to know about" lists

  1. Lists should be guidelines. But they pretend to be commandments.
  2. Lists are usually a personal representation of a more complex world: each reader would have pointed out different aspects, not just those ones.
  3. Lists represent a "compressed archive" of some more thoughtful reasoning. They cannot replace a well-written document.
  4. There are no good lists and bad lists: lists have no soul, no will :)
  5. There is a tendency to grow the list in a more structured way, thus transforming the list into a document tree. But want to save the trees, don't we? :)
  6. When someone reads a list, he/she feels an incoercible desire of building up his/her own list.
  7. Most of the bullet points are just obvious statements we could have made without them.
  8. A list cannot contain sufficient information to strengthen or weaken an argument. It's insane to pretend that a list can save you from a higher-pitch-debate.
  9. When you feel confident that the list has been "marble carved" in your brain, the first thing you do happens to violate the guidelines contained in the list!
  10. Sometimes it happens that the list is made of 13 or 9 elements. Some weird mental constraint (it has to be long enough, but not too long) lead the writer to cut out 3 interesting ones or to add one dumb bullet point to it. Like this one is!

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