RSS Invaders: A novel approach to managing information overload in syndicated feed readers

At SIGBOVIK, the annual conference held in honor of Harry Q. Bovik, I presented the latest research by myself and my esteemed colleague Marty McGuire in the area of optimizing the way in which we consume content. The result, as shown above, is called RSS Invaders.

Basically, it is a mashup of Google Reader and Space Invaders. It logs into your reader account and presents you with a real-time display of news items, represented by a photo from the post. When you choose to ‘view’ the item, by engaging it with a projectile from your laser canon, the full text from the article is displayed as a particle fountain, in pleasing manner. We believe that this method of interaction has significant advantages over a traditional, page-based interface, because it allows you to deal with a much larger set of items in a smaller amount of time, and with a greatly reduced cognitive load. The current system implements a read-only interface to your newsfeed, however we anticipate future expansion of this research into bribed social networking (powerups for advertising the game to your friends!) and feedback loops (game events are published as live feeds, which are then fed back into the game).

And no, we’re not kidding, it actually works :-). Source code for this proof-of-concept project is available on github, for both RSS Invaders and Marty’s GoogleReaderClient library for Processing. Here is the submitted abstract for my talk:

A novel approach to managing information overload in syndicated feed readers

With the rapid expansion of digital news services, and the trend for users to select content personally, sorting through the available content quickly becomes a major hangup for consumption of content. A user can quickly find themselves overwhelmed, and unable to keep up with the ever-increasing number of news items available.

People suffer from information overload when dealing with their online content, however they are perfectly capable of handling high-information video games.

In this paper, I present a novel method for dealing with this situation. Reaching to the entertainment industry for inspiration, this new method presents news items as entities in a virtual space, and allows the user to quickly deal with them using a simple set of familiar tools, including a laser gun, and star bomb.

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