In April, I stopped checking the news. Everything was so political, controversial, and overwhelming that I just wanted to disengage. At a previous hackathon, I found a group of people who felt the same way, and Oasis was born. We are tackling the multifaceted aspects of information fatigue to help people take a break and make more informed decisions.
What it does
Oasis is a browser extension that changes the new tab homepage. It communicates need-to-know information on a calming platform.
Our dashboard provides need-to-know information such as:
- Number of new cases in your location
- Twitter feed from CDC
- COVID-19 data visualizations to convey important or breaking news
A peaceful digital space that helps you take a break:
- Daily suggestion for social connection/self-care activity
- Day to night color shift
- Slow, soothing animation
How we built it
- We're using APIs to obtain location-based COVID testing information as well as relevant posts from the official CDC Twitter account.
- Suggestions for a daily activity come from a manually curated database, with input from experts.
- Partnership with the Coronavirus Visualization Team for data visualizations
Challenges we ran into
Before this hackathon, we wanted to provide people with critical pieces of information such as local policy updates, health advice, and the top headline of the week. However, we struggling with the responsibility of being a potential news platform:
- For local policy updates, were we going to scrape a website for every city in the country?
- How can we choose what news people are exposed to?
- How do we make sure the news sources we post are accurate?
- What information is truly essential? We pivoted from being a one-stop shop for content to a place to take a break with ambient information. Content-wise, the answer was to use information that is already curated by experts, and much easier to acquire.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
Making great progress on solving an issue that is important and personal to us.
What we learned
As a group of people working on a passion project, we don't have to have an answer for the big, ethical questions that stem from news and media. There are alternative ways to source information that still allow us to achieve our goal.
What's next for Oasis
- Collaborations with other people working on mental health, social connection, or producing information.
- MVP launch at the end of July.