I’ve been thinking a lot about lists, lately.

You can’t get away from lists. They are everywhere, and they are fundamental to almost everything we do. That is, if you think about lists the same way I’ve been thinking about them.

What is a list? I’m going to propose that we define a list as a collection of items, all of which have something in common. Even a list whose member items have nothing in common could be considered to have in common the property of not having anything in common. But that’s a philosophical diversion. Likewise for saying things like, “It’s not a collection of items, but a collection of references to items”, or, “But you have to define what an ‘item’ is, first”.

Let’s just agree that a list is a list: a printed (or other form of document or record) collection of references that identify the list member items.

Wait a minute. I’m getting way too deep here; that’s just how it is when you’re always thinking about lists. Here are some of the things that I’ve been wondering about, lately:

  • How much information would you need–about the items as well as about the list itself–to make it sufficiently describaeble within a database?
  • It might be really pretty cool if you could have a free hand in treating all the items in a catalog as a list–for example, all the products sold through Amazon.com or all the motion pictures described in the Internet Movie Database.
  • Are there any formal protocols for working with lists?
  • What are the best/most popular/most interesting websites for doing things with lists?

Just in case you were wondering what kinds of things I wonder about lists. And if you were wondering about any of the same things yourself, please join me here as I share what I learn as I dig deeper into the world of lists.

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