project

An RSS Experiment

The RSS Experiment consists of two parts, each exploring how temporal nature of an RSS feed can be used to visualize alarming statistics about climate change. My raw materials were the type of statistic that makes a great sound byte — "Every 10 minutes, 10 species of bird nears extinction" — but are too abstract to really have any lasting impact.

RSS can act as a sort of nervous system of information, allowing its subscribers to monitor an infinite number of situations from the same interface. I explored the idea of giving my raw statistics more weight by exploiting the temporal nature of RSS. Its one thing to be told a species goes extinct every 20 minutes, and quite another to actually see a new element appear in a feed each time that species goes extinct.

The first step of the project was to build a dynamic RSS feed, which produces an entry for every increment of time implied by a statistic, producing a flood of reminders over the course of the day.

The second part of the project investigates how a raw data format like RSS might manifest itself in a book form without being rendered by a browser or a feed reader.

An example of what the feed looks like in a typical feed reader like NetNewsWire.

The book introduces readers to the structure of xml, and tries to use typesetting and color coding to give an idea of what each of the elements of a feed do. The timestamp, in particular, is called out in red to emphasize the temporal nature of the statistic.

The feed folds out into an accordion book.