‘Tis the season of year-end lists, the time of the season when you see the ubiquitous “Best of 2011” rankings for nearly everything–books, movies, things to do, songs, cars, iPad apps, YouTube videos, fashion moments, Tweets and more. If you have access to the Internet and a bag full of opinions you can make your Top 5, 10, 100 and beyond, of anything you like and be guaranteed someone will read it. They can range from the entirely opinionated–“ten albums that I liked and no one else did this year”–to the somewhat informative–“ten hip restaurants that opened up in this area of town that you might not venture to that often”–to the outrageously unnecessary–“top ten things I wore on my left foot this year.”
Some of them are hysterically funny: The 20 Unhappiest People You Meet In The Comments Sections Of Year-End Lists, Top Jackasses of 2011 (“Too Many Make the List”), 10 Fictional Holidays from TV That You Can Actually Celebrate, Top 10 Comedic News Stories, and Top 10 Celebrity Pix of 2011. Others offer a comprehensive look at the year. In 54 wide-ranging lists, Time surveys the highs and lows, the good and the bad, of the past 12 months. The New Yorker contributed Best/Worst scandals of 2011 and E! Online promoted Best of 2011 Top 10 movies, reality shows, stylish stars, royal moments, heroes, and TV dramas.
Google, Facebook and Twitter’s year-end hot topic lists offer a reliably depressing look into the Internet’s soul. Twitter topped the Social Media Buzz list followed by LinkedIn, YouTube and Facebook, and spawned whole categories–The Top 10 Best Twitpics of 2011, The 90 Best Twitter Accounts of 2011, Top Hashtags, and Shalom Life’s Jews Top Twitter’s “Hot Topics” for 2011. Facebook “likes” Memology 2011: a look at what people were talking about on Facebook, including the top 10 status trends by country. Zeitgeist sorted billions of Google searches to capture the year’s 10 fastest-rising global queries and the rest of the spirit of 2011. What’s in a Word? The Top 10 LinkedIn Buzzwords of 2011 and Best Tumblr Blogs. Top picks for book lovers include The 10 Best Novels, Best Nonfiction, Top 10 Business Books, Best Cookbooks, The Top 10 Longreads, Top 10 Words of 2011, plus Amazon’s top 10 list contained two books that were Kindle-only. Sometimes the top 10 most-read stories are not what you might expect. Here’s a collection of the best animal photojournalism of the year. Damn you Autocorrect reveals the 9 Funniest Texts of the Year. Then there’s the Top 10 Ex-Gay Stories of 2011, Top 10 Personnel Stories of 2011, and Top 10 Cities for Holiday Lights.
For the techno-geek in your life, you have The Top 10 Tech Stories of 2011, Top 10 Christmas Ideas for Robot Geeks, Top 10 Food Apps and Top 10 Medical Apps for iPhone of 2011, Top 10 Industry Trends of 2011, Top 10 Security Predictions for 2011, and Top 10 Cool Digital Holiday Gifts for Boomers. Check out what’s dropping out of The Top 5 Cloud Washers–those “who have done the most to try to make a previous generation product look and sound like cloud”—Top 10 USBs and Peripherals List, and 7 Best High Tech Companies to Work at. There were best of lists written for sports (Top 2011 Sports Moments, Good and Bad: A Fan’s Perspective), television (Top 10 TV Shows of 2011), retail (5 Top Retail Success Stories of 2011), politics (The 40 Best Protest Signs Of 2011 and Occupy Wall Street’s list of Top 10 Top 10s), and cinema (Roger Ebert’s picks for best films of 2011 and Top 10 Most Rented Netflix Movies). Listen up for Top Music Picks in Pop, albums, songs, game music, 10 Best Glee Season Three Songs, and most played holiday songs.
Actually, a part of me is far more fascinated by the 10 Worst anythings, not least because there’s almost always something terribly funny about truly bad ideas, products, movies, sporting events, et al. The world’s biggest problem is stupidity [and] 2011 has been chock full of idiocy and ignorance. [Why], accused child rapist Jerry Sandusky has been named one of the 25 most “intriguing” people of 2011 by People magazine. W.A.T.C.H.’s annual “10 Worst Toys” list nominates representative toys with the potential to cause childhood injuries, or even death. The 10 Worst Media Disasters of 2011 include a politician who lost his place, a country singer who lost his job, and a celebrity who lost his show. The Top 10 Stupidest Holiday Gifts for 2011 [features] pooping reindeer sweaters and giant christmas tree hats. Flip through the worst smartphones of 2011, 8 Worst Android Infections of 2008, Most Expensive Computer Bugs, and 25 Worst Passwords.
Everyone’s favorite Bad Mom is Kris Jenner, mother to Kim as well several other assorted Kardashians and Jenners on The Worst Parents of 2011. By March I’d already seen enough terrible 2011 releases to write a completely adequate Ten Worst Movies list. AdvertisingAge ranked “Weinergate” as The Biggest Social Media Blunder of 2011. AOL’s Tim Armstrong, Zynga’s Mark Pincus and Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer made Business Insider’s Top 15 Most Hated Chief Executive Officers in Tech while The Motley Fool mashed a metaphor into a tortured simile compiling its Worst CEOs of 2011 list: “Whittl[ing] the veritable forest of worst CEO candidates down to 10… was like trying to sort through eggs in a hen farm.” A lot of great–and important–things happened in 2011. However, a lot of stuff also happened that we should just wipe from our memories, which led to Buzzfeed’s 45 Things We Should Forget About 2011. Continuing the yin-yang we also have The Best- and Worst-run Companies of 2011, The 10 Best and Worst of Politics, The Best and Worst Communicators of 2011, and New York City’s Top 10 Best and Worst Public Events in 2011.
I’m sure you’re all pretty sick of end-of-year lists by now. So… it’s time to predict the future by looking ahead. Keep an eye out for [our] next… installment: A Mega, Meta Mash-Up of Predictions for 2012. Before you leave, though, check out the most-viewed YouTube videos of the year. Or the 30 Most Important Cats of 2011. Go ahead. You know you want to.
[Mega, Meta Image Collage by Joel Arbaje]
Related Stories: Steve Jobs: A Mega, Meta Appreciation and Amazon’s Kindle Fire: A Mega, Meta Mashup Of Reviews.
Adam L. Penenberg is a journalism professor at NYU and a contributing writer to Fast Company. Follow him on Twitter: @penenberg.
24. Matt Stopera, BuzzFeed
26. Maureen Corrigan, NPR
27. Daniel K. Richter, Wall Street Journal
28. Harvey Schachter, The Globe and Mail
29. Bonnie S. Benwick, Washington Post
30. Mark Armstrong, Longreads
32. Tiffany Kaiser, Daily Tech
33. Katrina Barlow, Seattle Times
34. Matt Stopera, BuzzFeed
35. Samantha Murphy, Mashable
36. Wayne Besen, LGBTQ Nation
39. Connie Tamoto, Winnipeg Free Press
40. Marc Ferranti, PC World
42. Russell W. Warnick, Washington Post
43. Chris Gullo, MobiHealthNews
44. Kyle Mackinnon, Beefjack
48. Charles Babcock, Information Week
49. Sylvie Barak, EE Times
50. Ramona Emerson, The Huffington Post
51. Ali Maclean blog
52. Deborah Braconnier, Yahoo!
53. Alan Sepinwall, HitFix
54. Lydia Dishman, Forbes
55. Matt Stopera, BuzzFeed
56. John Sumpter, Tripped Media
57. Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
59. Josh Antonuccio, WOUB
61. Glen Boyd, Seattle PI
62. James Dinh, MTV
63. Kirk Hamilton, Kotaku
64. Jarett Wieselman, TheInsider.com
66. Pete Bodo, TennisWorld
67. Rick Lewis, Telegraph
68. Michael McCarthy, USA Today
70. Press release
72. Don Reisinger, eWeek.com
73. Tom Dunlop, TabTimes
75. Judy Peterson, San Jose Mercury News
76. Claire Zulkey, WBEZ91.5
77. Mary Pols, Time
78. Advertising Age
79. Business Insider
80. Sean Williams, The Motley Fool
81. Dave Stopera, BuzzFeed
82. The Atlantic
83. Randy Shaw, BeyondChron
85. Gene Russianoff, 13 WNET
86. Kyle Ellison, Drowned in Sound
87. Jeremy Cook, The Drinks Business
88. Denver Post
90. Jack Shepherd, BuzzFeed