updated 12/26/2008 8:38:40 PM ET 2008-12-27T01:38:40

This is David Letterman's world. The late-night TV talk show host may not be the inventor of the top 10 list, but he's certainly its most ardent supporter. And nowadays, the top 10 list is more popular than ever.

As the traditional critical epicenters have dispersed across the democratic Net, so, too, have the top 10 lists everyone loves to make. Everyone's a critic and everyone has a list.

There are so many niche year-end lists that there are now lists of lists. The Manhattan User's Guide recently compiled exactly this, pulling together the many memorable year-end lists spread across the Internet.

A few choice selections: Esquire's 10 worst members of Congress; Regret the Error's top media errors and corrections; The Next Web's 15 dumbest names for Web 2.0 startups; NPR's 10 cookbooks of the year; Pitchfork's worst album covers of 2008.

Traditional media still churn out top 10 lists. Newspaper critics and radio hosts offer their picks, and The Associated Press certainly supplies a boatload of year-end lists, from the top stories of the year to the quirkiest baby names.

Some prefer to avoid the hierarchy of a top 10 list. Several New Yorker and New York Times critics write more broadly musing articles on the year that was. For music remembrance, gathers several critics for conversational, back-and-forth e-mails.

Everyone has a preference. You might gravitate more to Rolling Stone's taste than Spin's, like the Onion's A.V. Club over NPR, or prefer Gawker's 10 worst media moments of 2008 to YouTube's top viral videos of the year.

There are other lists particular to the Web, like's year in questions ("Does it snow in Iraq?"). Google ranks the fastest rising search terms for 2008, globally (No. 1: Sarah Palin), and Yahoo has its top search terms (tops in 2008: Britney Spears).

And, of course, you can post your own top 10 list. Some sites have been launched to tap into our rabid list-making nature. Among them: Rate It All and Make Five, which allows users to create and vote on top five lists on any subject.

The utility of top 10 lists are ultimately to organize and make sense of the barrage of media and entertainment we receive through the year. But the ubiquity of such lists is starting to lessen their function; the lists have their own cacophony.

Thankfully, there are aggregators like, which averages critical opinion. It's about the closest thing to a consensus opinion out there.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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