The web, social media, mobile apps and online worlds/games have created a small explosion of new communication forms with unique cognitive impact. Tweets, blog posts, short homemade videos, cell phone pics, text messages, tags (like, friend, stumble, vote, etc.), emoticons, animations and avatar interactions are just a the few examples.
In addition to creating new communication forms, the mobile social web takes older forms to new heights. Take for example, the listicle. A combination of a list with an article or more precisely, an article written as a number list, is getting a big boost on the web. To see them in action check out some of the entries on Listicles.com:
- 6 Things from History that Everyone Pictures Incorrectly
- 5 Ridiculous Gun Myths Everyone Believes Thanks to the Movies
These have 4-5 million views each. Well-written listicles have strong cognitive design. They offer cool information (unique, interesting or even shocking) that can be important to us or just plain fun. All in an easy to consume package. We like lists because they offer high content with low cognitive load. You get a lot of information for very little work. By starting each listicle with a number, we signal the reader’s brain exactly how much info and mental work is in play. Interestingly, many start with the number of 7 plus or minus 2, or the number of items we can hold in short term memory at any one time.
I am interested to hear from readers that use listicles in organizational change or workplace communication efforts. Want to learn to write good listicles and make some money? Check out Cracked’s writer forum.