“The folly of studying, say, English lit has become something of an Internet cliche — the stuff of sneering ‘Worst Majors’ listicles that seem always to be sponsored by personal-finance websites.”

Some words that are new to us have to be explained. Some others are clear as soon as we first encounter them. Listicle is such a one. Though it’s too new for most dictionaries, we know immediately that it’s a piece of writing posing as an article — on the Internet, in newspapers and magazines — that consists mostly of a long list of people or things that are considered notable by the writer for some reason. Anyone who still reads has seen thousands of these things: “Stickiest movie-theater floors.” “Worst Central Arkansas drum majors.” Listicle is a useful word; I like it.

There are people who would say that a listicle is a form of content. I wouldn’t say that, because I feel the same way about content as does John R. MacArthur, the publisher of Harper’s magazine:

“I was immediately suspicious of the Internet being touted, in the late 1990s, as a miraculously efficient publishing platform because of the Web’s capacity for massive copyright violation. But what disturbed me more as a publisher and a writer was the ugly commodification of writing itself — the renaming of prose and poetry as something called ‘content.’ Suddenly, my colleagues and competitors were reducing well-wrought sentences and stories to the level of screws and bolts. Not only was ‘content’ an empty and offensive word, but my fellow publishers also proposed to give it away free in the quest for more advertising. Instead of honoring the reader, writer, and editor, this new approach to the publishing business insulted them, both by devaluing their work and by feeding it — with little or no remuneration — to search engines, which in turn feed information to advertising agencies (and, as it turns out, the government).”


To thine own selfie be true:

“Rihanna’s selfie sparks candal”.


I’m advised that a selfie is a self-photograph posted on the Internet. Still researching Rihanna.