Massive list posts ("50+ Ways to Use Flickr," "100 Social Media Resources", etc.) seem to be a really popular format. I know that I myself am attracted to them, bookmarking almost every one I see because the sheer quantity of items seems to indicate that it must be useful. But this morning I was thinking that these kinds of posts, while attractive, are not necessarily very helpful, particularly for newbies. It's just TOO MUCH information to absorb, even for someone like me who prides herself on her information management skills.
What's attractive about massive lists is that they seem to somehow be comprehensive. We see "100 Resources" and we think, "Great--I can bookmark this one post and it will take me to 100 other things." And that's true. But realistically, will I ever explore even a small portion of these links? If I go to 10, that's probably a great post. And again, I'm an information glutton.
The more I work with people who are new to social media, the more I believe that simplicity is the key. No massive lists of resources or tools. No long, multi-step posts on how to accomplish a particular task. This stuff needs to be broken down into smaller chunks that are easily digestible. Choices need to be limited and instructions need to be simple and concrete. Don't show me 10 possible wiki tools. Show me one and then give me the simple steps for making it do what I need it to do. If for some reason that particular tool doesn't work for me, then we can talk about other options.
Of course, you could argue that authors of list posts aren't writing for newbies. That may be true. But like many things, these resource kinds of posts can be subconsciously absorbed into our culture of how things are done, making us forget that less is more when it comes to working with most people.
We may be information omnivores (something I think might be indigenous to the culture of early adoption), but the next wave of social media users (the early majority) are less adventurous in their information-gathering strategies and more pragmatic about what they consume.
Something else with this group--they are not looking for the BEST tool or process as much as the "good enough" solution. They want something that does it better than they have in the past, even if it isn't necessarily the "ultimate" option. And ironically, these good enough solutions may actually turn out to be revolutionary in their impact, as indicated by the model of disruptive innovation.
I find that periodically I need to remind myself that while I may exist in a particular culture that wants more, more, more--more tools, more ways to apply them, etc.--this isn't where most people are at right now. I need to focus less on comprehensiveness and more on comprehensibility. I need to help people find not "the best" but the "good enough" options.