Fever, A Self-Hosted Feed Reader, Heats Up Your RSS Subscriptions

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Fever is a hot new RSS reader that aims to cure “second inbox syndrome, unread item guilt, and unbold elbow.” In other words, the common plights of the modern RSS power user.

Besides offering a full-featured feed reader, the application attempts to create a personalized Techmeme by scanning a user’s feed list for popular (or hot) links. Fever then groups these links into stories and assigns each a “temperature.” This allows a user to quickly keep a pulse on what’s going on in his or her “slice of the web.”

The other refreshing feature of the app is its move away from email inbox-style unread counts. As a long-time Google Reader user, I always dreaded the experience of returning from an offline vacation only to find several thousand unread items in my reader. With Fever, the emphasis is on dividing subscriptions into two camps: must-reads (called Kindling) and everything else (Sparks). By moving the “hit-or-miss” feeds into the Sparks bin, Fever ensures that a user gets only the most relevant content.

I’ve been using the product for a little less than a week and it has yet to disappoint. I now feel like I’m always aware of the trending stories in my area of Internet interest. Furthermore, I’ve been able to subscribe to a number of high-volume feeds that I would have never added to my Google Reader. And since I added them as Sparks, they now help Fever’s algorithm better find the most interesting stories from my Kindling.

Fever is the newest product from designer/developer Shaun Inman: He is also the creator of Mint, a web site analytics suite (not to be confused with Mint, the financial site); Shortwave, a command line bookmarklet; and Horror Vacui, an 8-bit iPhone game.

Although Fever has fully replaced Google Reader as my everyday feed reader, there are two drawbacks to the app: its cost and its requirements. Fever costs $30 (there is no demo or trial available). It also requires self-hosting and self-installation. Ultimately, this will prevent widespread adoption.

A possible solution to increase mass appeal would be if a hosting company, e.g. Media Temple or Rackspace, were to offer a hosted version of Fever for a few dollars a month. Even better would be an ad-supported free version.

But in the end, Inman seems to be fine with a more targeted market:

The price for feed readers has bottomed out at free so anything more than that is going to turn certain people off. And I don’t mind the deterrent. Most products price to be inclusive, to make the most money possible. I designed Fever (like Mint) first and foremost for myself. Any money I make on top of the personal utility I get out of it is just icing on the cake.

I also support my customers personally. Anything I can do to keep that level of support manageable helps — especially with two commercial products.

Check out the demo video here.

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