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From the 10 most important mustaches of Tumblr to 23 lies you tell yourself to feel like a grown up (guilty), listicles and ranked groupings are increasingly escaping the confines


From the 10 most important mustaches of Tumblr to 23 lies you tell yourself to feel like a grown up (guilty), listicles and ranked groupings are increasingly escaping the confines of teen magazines and buzzfeed and entering the news arena. After reading Bloomberg’s recently released “Bloomberg’s Best (and worst): Highest-Paid at Companies that Lost Money in 2012: CEOs” I decided to write this post on the powerful utility of my favorite LittleSis tool, lists. Ever read one of these and wonder how these people or organizations became tethered? Surely there must be more to the story? Thats where LittleSis lists come in. The list function on LittleSis shows you the broader networks and multiple threads that bind the individuals in the list and can reveal what they’re doing on that list in the first place.

You create a LittleSis list like any other individual or organization profile, complete with source URL and title, then add members individually or through a bulk upload. Your list can be ranked or not, for instance, if you have the top 19 donors to Organizing for Action, you will want to rank those, but if you have a collection with no clear hierarchy or ordering, like a list of military acquisition personnel, you would not. Once you add all of the members of the original list into LittleSis, simply hit the interlocks tab to see where else they are connected. If the members already have well-filled profiles the interlocks tab will produce instant results. If not, you can go to any of the list member’s profile pages to fill in more details, which will then flesh out the interlocks tab as well. For more information on how to fill out a profile please visit our newly redesigned help page.

Here are a variety of lists from different articles that we then put into LittleSis.

This is an unranked list of current military acquisition personnel that I created for a preliminary search into connections to defense contractors.
Military acquisition personnel list

Now check out what you see with the Interlocks tab. Bingo bango.

Fancy meeting you here, Raytheon.

PAI Research Analyst Rob recently made a list based on the new CREW/MapLight report on fracking contributions to Congress. After constructing the list he used the “Funding” tab to see which donors are giving to the greatest number of Congresspeople.

Fracking Contributions to 113th Congress – Funding tab

Rob found Jeffrey MacKinnon, a lobbyist for several energy companies and former Legislative Aide to Rep. Joe Barton (who topped Crew’s list), donated $106,250 to people on the list. Since MacKinnon isn’t an energy company employee and doesn’t contribute to energy company PACs, his contributions wouldn’t have shown up in the data CREW was analyzing.

Lists are also a great way to link together profiles of people who will serve on advisory boards or who will testify on panels before Congress. Remember the much ballyhooed NSA review board, mandated by President Obama and touted as a panel of outsiders? When you put those guys in a list and hit the interlocks tab they begin to look a lot more like insiders.

NSA “outside” advisory panel interlocks

Here is another way to view that network.

Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies

These lists are valuable when you’re kicking off research, following hunches, or just need to organize the network you’re investigating. I encourage you to try it out, group together a few profiles and see what unfolds.