An intriguing reality check – see the full article
These lists are among the byproducts of the Internet's knack for being instantly quantifiable. Purchases on Amazon.com update the online retailer's sales rankings and their people-who-bought-this-also-bought-that recommendations. Yahoo continually updates its top 10 user searches on its home page, and the iTunes Store does the same with its list of top songs.
Using popularity rankings to make decisions, however, has downsides. These online rankings are public, creating a positive-feedback loop. The more popular something becomes, even if just from a random burst of interest, the more likely it is to grow ever more popular. And that has troubling implications about the effects of all sorts of popularity rankings, from bestseller charts to election polls.