As one of Vuo's developers, I work on Vuo's engine (the thing that makes compositions run), work on nodes, and write documentation. You'll see me on the forums answering people's questions about Vuo.
I've been developing apps and frameworks for several years (since I was in college). Pre-Vuo projects include Kineme Quartz Composer plugins, iOS apps for education, an app that analyzes photographs of tomato slices, and software to help people with disabilities use talking keyboards.
I enjoy using Vuo to make live music visuals. My hope for Vuo is that it will grow into a community of people of diverse backgrounds and identities making lots of different artistic, useful, unique, goofy, beautiful, crafty, wonderful compositions.
To hide objects beyond a certain distance, you could add a camera (such as Make Targeted Perspective Camera) and adjust its Distance Min and Max ports. See example compositions Compare Cameras and Switch Cameras.
There are a number of reasons why a composition that animates a lot of 3D objects might be slowing down, so if the camera doesn't solve the problem, it would help if you could post your composition (or a simplified version of it).
Philip (@Pianomatic), are you thinking a visual cue on nodes that could ever be collapsed (going by your proposal, that would include any node with at least one input) or on nodes that can currently be collapsed (have one input receiving data)?
If the data is provided in the form of an RSS feed, you can use the Fetch RSS Items node. (See example composition Display RSS Items.)
In Vuo 1.2.6, there will be a new node called Make Tree from Text that can parse JSON or XML. To pull in data from a web service that provides JSON- or XML-formatted data, you would use a Fetch Data node to download the data from the URL and pass it along to the Make Tree from Text node. (Feature request: Load structured data.)