Sick of Silly Lists? Don't Blame the Internet

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Old-school journalists can get angry about the listified content of the Internet era. 10 Words you can't pronounce correctly! 18 famous brains and what they weighed! 15 famous events that happened in the bathtub! Ugh. How can the Internet have turned us all into such idiots!

Except that those three lists and many, many others originally ran in a book first released in 1977, The Book of Lists, which received a bunch of rave reviews, according to its Amazon page:

"Impossible to put down." Independent on Sunday; "Imaginatively insane." Sunday Herald; "Packed with more fascinating, trivial, vital and perverse non sequiturs than you can shake an encyclopedia at." New York Times Book Review; "A lot of fun." Wall Street Journal; "Oddly addictive." Sunday Express

Clearly the listicle not only predates the Internet, but the same people who would probably look down on them in slideshow form found them "imaginatively insane" on pulp.

To honor the way The Book of Lists, which set the tone for the Internet age, we present 13 lists from the 2005 version of the book, along with the Web publication that it would (hypothetically) run on now.

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he oversees the Technology Channel. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer calls Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science Web site in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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