Ranking people is stupid

Forbes put up its list of “Web Celebs” yesterday.  This list is utterly pointless and shows nothing but ignorance of the diversity of the Internet and the power of individualized content.  Sorry, it’s not completely pointless, as I’m sure 25 people feel pretty cool today, and I’m genuinely happy for them (especially for the ones who I’m friends with!). As Robert Scoble observed, tons of prominent Internet voices are missing from the list.

Further, the list is missing other “celebrities” such as Tila Tequila who has (at the time of writing) just short of 2.5 MILLION friends on MySpace.  Again, not to take anything away from the listmakers, but only Engadget and Boing Boing have traffic above that number.  I think the criteria Forbes used is also fairly… inane:

To generate the ranking, we first defined “Web Celeb” as a person famous primarily for creating or appearing in Internet-based content, and for being highly recognizable to a Web-based audience. That definition excludes people who were significantly famous before they hit the Web–like author Arianna Huffington, billionaire Mark Cuban or journalist Michelle Malkin–and leaves us with a pool of people whose fame depends on the Internet.

But beyond all that, really, what’s the point?  Who benefits (again, other than the 25) from this list?  Is the world a better place?  Do the other billion people on the Internet feel a bit worse about themselves?  Do the ones who got cut from last year’s list care?  And more to the point, should they?

Lists like these do nothing to make people feel good about anything.  They make people envious.  They make people strive for things beyond their means.  They make people mock the lists themselves.  They serve virtually no public good.

And dammit, I’m not on there.  And I probably wasn’t #26 either. Jerks…

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