In 1847 the Reverend John MacDonald, missionary of the Free Church of Scotland in Calcutta, succumbed to cholera. A tract in his name nevertheless appeared nine years later, titled ‘The theatre: fourteen reasons why we should not go to it’. MacDonald’s beliefs didn’t outlive him long, but his style survives: were he with us today, I’ve no doubt he’d work in online media. (While I don’t know what his fourteen reasons were, it’s hard not to picture animated gifs.)
The numbered list format is everywhere; you’d struggle to find an author who hasn’t turned to it for traffic. Recently, in an article called ‘How to write a Thomas Piketty think-piece, in easy 10 easy steps’, WashPo‘s Carlos Lozada merged it with another trend, metacommentary, to swipe at conceited reviewers. “Think-piece” has since been called a dirty word at Slate.