16 February 2010

Why Lists are Pretty Silly

I recently came across this survey at PDN which was meant to determine the most influential living photographers. Let's set aside the obvious question: What do you mean by "influential"?* The problem is that the PDN folk couldn't figure out how to count the votes, so there are three different lists discriminated by how responses are tallied - number of votes, number of individual voters or number of votes per voter (the last being a measure of intensity I suppose). The lists overlap to some extent but not the order. I found the whole thing too confusing. So, maybe you can get confused too!

I actually am more interested in who are the most interesting photographers - some of the folks on the PDN lists would make my own list, some of them I've never heard of. An off-the-top-of-the-head list of photographers who make none of the PDN lists: Frank; Koudelka; Kratochvil; Rio Branco; Wall; Burtynsky; Soth; Sekula; Jordan; Misrach; Meiselas; Rogovin; Pfahl ... So if you were confused by simply trying to figure out who made the PDN list, you'll surely be even more confused when you start to think of all the people who didn't. In the end this ranking exercise was a waste of column inches.
* Answer: "We left it to our survey participants to define the term ..."; which I have to say is pretty dim.



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