Looking back on 10 years of time spent with Pocket

Ten years ago, a small but mighty team launched Pocket because we believed people deserved a better way to consume content on the internet. We wanted it to be easy – “an action as simple as putting it in your pocket” – and empowering, empowering people to interact with the web on their own terms. We championed saving as a fundamental internet action – similar to browsing, searching and sharing – but more than any other, allowing you to create your own corner of the internet.

Right away, Pocket saving became powerful – a way to grab what you wanted from the waves of messages and tweets, long reads and memes and come back to it when it made the most sense to you. And it continues to lay the foundation for the future that awaits us.

A few interesting things happened when we started looking into backup.

First, we remembered the power of stories. People understand the world through stories. The stories people consume give them power, knowledge and ideas. Stories allow people to access who they are and who they aspire to be.

But we get distracted from these stories when media and platforms focus too much on breaking news – which is first and loudest. Additionally, platforms have created click-based incentives – quality be damned. We’ve committed Pocket to being a place where quality stories, and those who want them, can breathe and thrive.

Second, we embraced curation. The modern web is big, messy, and noisy. There is an inherent beauty and innovation to this. As the Mozilla Manifesto states, the open global Internet is the most powerful communication and collaboration resource we have ever seen. It embodies some of our deepest hopes for human progress. It offers new opportunities for learning, building a sense of shared humanity, and solving pressing issues facing people everywhere.

But as the web has evolved, it has created a challenging and often overwhelming environment for consumers of online content. People rightly feel like they’ve wasted their agency with their online time. Curation is our way of helping readers fight back. We’ve built Pocket’s approach to recommendations with the same intent as backup – content discovery based on highlighting stories worthy of your time and attention and taking an approach that combines algorithms and a human touch so that our commitment to quality is always clear and felt. Users often tell us that “we really understand them,” even when viewing recommendations on non-personalized surfaces. I think they react to the quality of what we organize and recommend to our users.

Since we launched Pocket, people have saved over 6.5 billion pieces of content. Every month, through Firefox New Tab and our Pocket Hits newsletter, over 40 million people see our Pocket recommendations. We strongly believe in and participate in the wider content ecosystem – and we want to direct users to great content wherever they are, championing creators and publishers, big and small. Pocket can always be trusted to bring you the good stuff.

In 2020, our recommendations have evolved further, with the introduction of Pocket Collections. In the uncertain and disorienting early days of the pandemic, and then after the murder of George Floyd, we saw a need for high-quality content to contextualize and help people navigate events. We also saw an opportunity to raise our voices and use our platform to dig into complex and systematic issues with a margin of nuance. Just reading the latest news or knowing dates and names, things that show up in simple Google searches, wasn’t enough.

We started digging deeper and inviting experts to create collections to bring a broader perspective, driven by the idea that some topics require more than just an article or point of view to bring understanding. Pocket might not be where you come to find out who won an election. But it will be there that you will understand why. Since those early collections around covid and racial justice, we have continued to build and explore where best to use this medium. We now have hundreds of collections, ranging from how to talk to people you disagree with and Zoom brain management to long reads on scams and the science of the multiverse.

It’s the future of Pocket that we continue to build – improving our ability to find the right content and recommend it to you at the right time. We also try, in our own way, to elevate unique voices, helping creators and fantastic independent publishers reach new audiences. Over time, we may even explore opportunities to leverage our users as experts in specific topics and pass the mic to them. As the economy of internet and digital content overload continues to evolve, so do we. We don’t claim to be able to fix the problems of the internet, but we want to help people connect with the hope, talent and wonder we still know on the web.

The internet doesn’t have to be a place where people feel overwhelmed. For the past 10 years, Pocket has been a corner of the internet where you can scroll for joy and sate your curiosity about how we got here. Ultimately, our goal is to ensure that using Pocket is time well spent – and will continue to be 10 years from now.

10 years of fascinating reading

From the best article of each year to how Pocket readers predicted the future, these collections are sure to pique your interest.

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