Culturalist, a Social Network for Top 10 Lists, Goes into Public Beta Today

Culturalist, a social network that lets you create and share Top 10 lists, is launching into public beta mode today. For now, it is available by invite only.

Culturalist, a social network that lets you create and share Top 10 lists, is launching into public beta mode today. If you’re interested in participating, go to to receive an invite to be granted access.

I recently caught up with the company’s founder, Jordan Roth, who is also president of Jujamcyn Theaters, which owns five Broadway theaters (The St. James, Al Hirschfeld, August Wilson, Eugene O’Neill and Walter Kerr theaters), to discuss why he created Culturalist, why lists draw so much engagement online, and what the most popular lists have been while in private beta.

Here are excerpts:

Question: How and when did you come up with the idea for Culturalist?

Roth: In all of my work, I am focused on broadening and deepening the cultural conversation — creating ways for more people to talk more substantively about their passions and opinions. In observing how we talk about culture, both online and off, you can see that we all have a strong need to share what we know, what we love and what we don’t. For several years, I’ve wanted to create a way to convene those conversations that would be fun and engaging and shareable, and that would also drive towards a collective wisdom. Top 10 lists, a universal way of talking culture, became the perfect vocabulary for those conversations.

Q: Talk about the Culturalist social network and its features. Why do you focus on Top 10 lists?

Roth: When you think about what’s popular online, Top 10 lists really stand out. They’re sticky, drive high engagement and are easily read, displayed and shared. But at the same time, 10 items is a pretty deep dive into a topic. Most Top 10 lists that you see are perceived as fact but when you notice they’re created by an editor or writer, they’re actually subjective opinions of the people publishing content. By creating your own Top 10 lists on your favorite topics, you’re curating a magazine spread of your passion. We want to let people be the editors of their own cultural discussions.

Another aspect of the Top 10 lists is the ability to make your list beautiful. Our users pair each entry on a list with rich media – videos, GIFs, photos – which creates a really beautiful presentation of the conversation.

Once you create a list, it becomes part of a conversation. Culturalist takes every list in a conversation and produces the Aggregate, distilling all the lists into a single new list reflecting the opinions of the Culturalist community on that topic. This feature provides a more representative understanding of popular opinion because of our ranking algorithm, which recognizes where items rank in users’ lists. Over time, the Aggregate will learn to weigh different users’ lists based on the popularity and expertise of individual lists and users on the site.

Users can also follow other people on the site, ‘like’ lists and subscribe to conversations which will alert you when more lists are contributed to a particular topic.

Q: What makes your social network unique?

Roth: Culturalist is where the culture conversation is happening. The network is unique in a few ways. We’re talking about the full range of culture – from popular to niche, from silly to serious, from lowbrow to highbrow – in the most appealing medium online: Top 10 lists.

Culturalist makes preference data contextualized. Rather than just liking ‘Breaking Bad’ and ‘The West Wing,’ I can list Breaking Bad No. 1 and The West Wing No. 3 on my Best TV Dramas of All-Time list. By putting these into a list, I’m telling my friends something more specific and contextual about what I like. People who follow me understand where these items rank in my personality.