About 100 Women

About.com is one of the most confusing places on the web. It seems to bill itself as one-stop-shopping for reliable “how to” and other information. The fact that it’s owned by the New York Times and written by so-called “expert guides” reinforces this image. Yet when you look closely at the articles themselves, it’s immediately clear that site varies widely in terms of accuracy and trustworthiness, and it’s exceedingly difficult to tease out the wheat from the chaff. I can never tell why certain topics are chosen for inclusion, what kind of editorial control is applied, and how authors are deemed “expert.” At times about.com seems like Wikipedia. At other times it seems like Yahoo Answers. Most often it seems like someone did a cut and paste job of Technorati, including a random assortment of blog posts of varying interest, quality, and subject matter under a single umbrella, and then tacked on an idiosyncratic index. Considering how poorly the site is organized and how haphazard and heterogeneous its articles are, it’s disturbing how often results from about.com come up in Google searches. Obviously people are using it, but I’m not sure how much it’s helping them.

That’s a long way to go to say that a link turned up on Digg yesterday pointing to about.com’s 100 Most Important Women of World History. Like most everything else on about.com, it’s totally subjective and of dubious historical worth, but it’s presented as somehow definitive. Still, it’s a good candidate for the Tops of All Time series, and about.com is a good source for the series in general. This article alone includes links to The Top 100 in Women’s History, the 100 Books that Changed the World by American Women, and other overlapping lists. I won’t grab any more from about.com for this series because I feel like it would be cheating, but there’s certainly plenty more for the taking.


A quick one tonight from Popular Mechanics: The Top 10 F/X Scenes in Movie History. In fact it’s not a countdown of scenes at all, but rather a list of the most important applications of digital technology to recent filmmaking. Yet it’s ordered chronologically according to the dates of the films in which the techniques were first used, and it’s structured as a “top ten” list, so I guess it fits our bill.

Hot for Teacher

Because I completely fell off the wagon towards the end of the year, I’m going to extend the Tops of All Time series for another month. All told, I didn’t do too badly—fourteen posts in just this category in just under fifty days—but this time I’m really going to try to post something every day.

Today and tomorrow we return to the field of cinema, which I’m quickly realizing is a gold mine for “best ever” history. Today it’s The 10 Best Teachers in Movie History from filmcritic.com. What will it be tomorrow?

Bonus—guilty pleasure

Tops of 2006

Yesterday Sharon inadvertently reminded me that we’re coming up on Found History‘s first anniversary by sending me a link to this list of the top five movie posters of 2006. Not only is the link a good fit for the Tops of All Time series (see also All Time On-Screen Hackers and More Movie Mosts), but it also harkens back to my very first piece of found history: a snap of the “Best of 2005” lists at the supermarket check out.

I commented at the time that New Year’s is an especially potent time for popular historymaking, a time for taking measure of things past and looking forward to things future. Well, here we are approaching the New Year again, and I’m taking measure myself. Many thanks to Sharon for the spark, and a very happy birthday to Found History. It’s been fun.

What Not to Wear

A couple weeks ago I recklessly hypothesized that European sports fans are more likely than their North American counterparts to conceptualize history in terms of best and worst. Not surprisingly, it turns out this is a completely bogus conjecture, and to prove I’m not afraid to admit my mistakes, I’d like to point you two counterexamples. Both are American, and both provide a look sport’s great fashion faux pas. So here they are: Sport’s Illustrated’s “Fashion Mis-Statements” and Fox Sports’ “Top 10 Worst Sports Uniforms”. Appropriate choices, I think, for a post pointing out my own misstep.