Here are some alternative news reader UI ideas to consider. First two are usuable as is, but the rest require quite a bit of polishing and crafting before they can be useful. I came up with them while I was sitting at a recent workshop after hearing the speaker complain about how boring existing news readers are.
News item are displayed on flashcards. Background color, font size, and number of items per card (1-7), and transition effect should be configurable. User can navigate forward or backward to next or previous set of headline. Up or escape to wider view (list of news or sources) should be available. Fullscreen-mode is essential.
Movie Credit Screen UI
Similar to Flashcard-style UI but visual presentation effects seen commonly in movie opening or closing credit screens are used. UI should not emphasize more than one news item at one time. For example, if news items fade or blur in and out then current candidate for further reading should be most noticeable. Background music and entertaining audio ads can be be used simultaneously. Again fullscreen-mode is essential. Screensaver-mode is optional.
Video Game UI
Wild array of UIs are possible here including using news items as prizes, gates, or monsters.
You can see what others are interested in using various UI schemes such as footprints, ranking, etc.
A refined version of these UI might fade in a transparent headline over the screen or in some assigned space for a 'while' when user hasn't moved the mouse or typed anything for certain amount of time. Since most news one might read using a news reader aren't urgent, you can spread hundreds of headlines over the entire day instead of flooding the reader with large number of popups simultaneously like SharpReader does.
These ideas are just branches off a single idea: news readers as boob tubes for couch potatos. Instead of overwelming the user with long list of articles and folders, turn it into a linear experience like the TV. Press the power button to turn it on and just sit back until you see something you like and then press another button to dive in. Add another button for fast-forward or switch the channel.
Finally got the applet working and tried it. Well, it just doesn't work for me. Individual words have several meanings which neighboring words help in narrowing down. Using the Speed-Reader, each word touched off several trails of thoughts so a stream of words in sequence left me disoriented and exasperated because all the thought trails I launched got stranded as I was pulled along by the speed reader. With my brain in a carefully balanced disarray, I don't want to risk messing it up further with this thing. Frankly, it gives me the creeps.