How The “Feed” Revolutionized Content Consumption

RSS feeds, now know just as “the feed,” revolutionized the way we consume content online. Feeds organize information on a website, blog, or social media site into a neat, packaged series of clickable content that is constantly updating. As ubiquitous as the feed has become, it’s actually a very new invention – just 10 years old.

The feed is now the be-all and end-all for online content. Every website from amateur blogs to Facebook relies on the feed. And, with the rise of mobile, feeds have only become more important.

2013 was definitely the year the feed became unstoppable. Vine, which relies on the feed, topped 40 million users, and Twitter (arguable the original social feed machine) topped 200 million users. And, more importantly, in-feed ads that look like native content became the standard (and performed better than past sidebar and header banner ads).

Sharethrough created an infographic that Mashable shared chronicling the history of feed formats, starting with its very basic beginning to its dominant position in today’s UX design. Check out the infographic, below, along with the stats we found most interesting!

  • Yahoo started the feed revolution in 1994 by curating sites into a directory that made exploring the Internet easier.
  • Apple’s iPod release in 2001 introduced a basic feed-type way of consuming music, where a thumb scroll allowed you to control a feed with a gesture on a mobile device.
  • Digg, founded in 2004, really began the “front page content” feed that reddit has popularized in 2005.
  • Twitter launches in 2006, making feed-based content the norm for social media platforms.
  • First generation iPhone launched in 2007, making feeds the norm for mobile device content consumption.
  • In 2013, Instagram launched in-feed ads, as did Pinterest, Twitter, Yahoo, and LinkedIn. The feed established itself as here to stay, as advertisers experienced more success with feed-based ad content.


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