They did not catch on because they were not implemented with a proper social dynamic.
It’s like asking a Christmas Tree to decorate itself.
Twitter lists as currently implemented require curation and are not self organizing. Rather then users creating and curating lists, users should be able to join lists. This makes lists self organizing. User curated lists creates many duplicate and fragmented lists. For example, shouldn’t there be a list of Connecticut tweeters? Well there are, but in fact there are hundreds of them, none of which are complete. For me to make the definitive Connecticut tweeters list, A) I have to do the work, B) I have to know all the people to put on the list and C) you have to know i’ve created the list to enjoy it.