The Wall Street Journal just came out with new rankings for most influential business leaders (here).
Obviously, this is a sparkly day for Gary Hamel (#1) and the rising stars just behind him.
But what does a piece like this do for Tom Davenport, the ranker himself? He may not be Gary Hamel, but his position as someone who we depend on to tell us who is isn't too shabby either.
The U.S. News and World Report gets as much out of the annual college rankings as the top ("top") schools. And is the Academy around for any other reason than to give us the Awards (I mean really)? These groups are powerful because we rely on them to get it right.
Point being, the guy who makes the lists--who tells you who to listen to, where to go to school, what to watch, what to read--may be just as important as the folks on the lists themselves.
And hence, the internet aggregators. Google makes its money by giving you authoritative lists (search results, feed reader). Digg.com does too. These companies aren't in the content business; they're in the list business.
We all know the content business in publishing is suffering these days. That brings up the question: Can, and should, you do both lists *and* content? Should the NYT list articles not in the NYT as "most emailed"? Would more people visit their site if they did? Should our company's site list competitors' books as "similar products" if that will make more people think of us as "the authority" in our field?