when was the last time you’ve watched a cat video online? let’s be honest, almost everyone is guilty of it with  our eyes glued to the screen as minutes  — even hours — are flying by watching kittens tumbling down stairs or knocking down the entire house. cat videos indeed entertain, relax and lifts viewers up, making it easy to forget the reality of this harsh world. but how much time do people actually spend watching such content? here to track down and expose this activity is the oCat news distractor developed by digital media student annika engelhardt.

annika engelhardt oCat news distractor designboom
stamped timeline piles up on the ground: the paws are meant to cover up headlines, making them hard to read
(main) GIF © annika engeldhardt



through her graduate project at university of the arts in bremen, annika engelhardt wants to increase and reveal the amount of time people spend watching cat videos. this is possible thanks to the device itself, a twitter bot and a website where all information is collected to generate data visualization, tweets and display videos. using google’s youtube API, a server collects that data and monitors the twenty-five most popular cat videos; once achieved, the device stamps a paw print on a timeline for every 1000 additional views. this timeline includes the latest news collected from various RSS feeds  a format that delivers constantly updated data). every minute, a thermal printer prints a new section containing a time stamp, source and headline.

annika engelhardt oCat news distractor designboom
a LCD screen displays the latest number of views for the twenty five most popular cat videos, collected since midnight



the paw prints stamped unto the paper rolls are meant to cover the headlines to an extent that makes them hard to read, demonstrating how much cat content can distract people from more serious online news. given how frequent that activity is, the stamped timeline just keeps piling up on the ground in front of the device. even more, a LCD screen on the oCat monitor displays the latest number of views the twenty-five most popular cat videos have collected since midnight. 

annika engelhardt oCat news distractor designboom
the altered maneki-neko stamps a paw print on current headlines for every 1000 new views



designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.


edited by: lea zeitoun | designboom