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RealTime IT News

FEED Digests Old Design for Livelier Look

The hip Generations X and Y magazine FEED this week unveiled a facelift on its Web site.

The snarky magazine, which targets a more "Internet savvy" user with a melange of media, technology, pop culture, and arts, has introduced a redesign of the site replete with topic-based sections, better navigation and a "Who's Better?" Poll.

The site has been organized into nine new subject areas: Arts & Music, Books, Digital Culture, Habitat, Mediasphere, Moving Pictures, Politics & Society, Science, and Vices. Regular FEED departments and columns can still be found through a pull-down menu in the left-side navigation section of the homepage.

Co-Editor-In-Chief Stephanie Syman tells readers in a letter on FEED's home page that one of the goals of the redesign was to make the site more user-friendly. The site should benefit from reduced clutter.

"This quickly became an exercise in subtraction," Syman explained. "We axed gratuitous design elements, pruned the homepage, and removed the ad frame that ran along the bottom of the site. The end result is a homepage that legibly lists three weeks of content and recent special issues, and that prominently highlights the stories of the day."

FEED's home page will also host a pop culture gag in the "Who's Better?" poll where readers can compare the "who's cooler" issue of personalities, concepts and objects. The first one asks readers to choose between Linda Tripp, pegged by FEED as a "garish, Clinton-hating Republican bureaucrat" and Florida's Secretary of State Katherine Harris, billed as a "garish, Bush-loving Republican bureaucrat."

Nominated for three Webby Awards, The Wall Street Journal's columnist Walter Mossberg gave FEED perhaps the strongest praise available for an online news network when he said the magazine successfully "combined the quality and principles of traditional print journalism with the new forms available online."

This week's action at the magazine is the latest in many upcoming changes for parent company Automatic Media, including the creation of a new online community in the next year.

Erected last July, Automatic Media is the cornerstone of a merger between Advance.net and FEED.

It wisely took advantage of when firms were still willing to pump cash and resources into new content sites. Lycos Inc. took a 25 percent stake in Automatic Media, and folded its smarmy Suck.com into the new network.

Also, about $4 million of initial funding for the company came from Advance Publications Inc., parent of Advance.net, Lycos Ventures LP, an independent venture capital firm and London-based venture capital group, Paladin UK.

To meet its proclamation of appealing to the hip contingent, Automatic Media also bought alternative culture encyclopedia Alt.Culture for an undisclosed sum. Alt.Culture's sphere includes independent rock and film as well as extreme sports.

Just who is FEED and Automatic Media geared for?

On its site, Automatic Media defines its demographic target as "primarily 21-34 years old, affluent, educated, and heavily Web-involved. This market is 20 million strong, and is made up of high-indexing purchasers and sophisticated pop culture consumers."

FEED Co-Founder Steve Johnson said the network's demographic is less an age and more of post-college people who have embraced the Web.

"These are people who live around the Web, which cuts into their TV time," Johnson said.