Itâ€™s been almost five years since Shaun Inman first offered web developers a fresh look at their websites with the analytics tool Mint. Now heâ€™s set his sights on getting people hot and bothered about other peoples web content with the introduction of Fever, an ambitious new take on content aggregation. So how does it work? By utilising a recommendation engine similar to websites such as Digg, Fever sorts through your RSS feed subscriptions to dig out only the hottest stories the web has to offer.
Itâ€™s simple. Fever lumps the feeds you read into two fundamental categories: kindling and sparks. Kindling represents your must-read feeds, the sites you catch up on over your morning coffee. Sparks represent sites youâ€™re aware of, but donâ€™t necessarily seek out on a regular basis – the type of content you look for on a slow day at the office.
By filtering your feeds for overlapping content, Fever trims away the fat and delivers you only the leanest cuts of web content. Where most traditional aggregation services require users to actively maintain a content diet, slimming their reading lists in an attempt to avoid over-saturation, Fever has its cake and eats it, too.
This is at once a blessing and a curse, dependent upon your existing reliance on content aggregation services. For those of us who already have a well-stocked Google Reader account, the switch to Fever is relatively painless, with the service sporting OPML import functionality. Of course, for those without access to a pre-existing feed list, it takes a bit of effort to feed Fever enough for it to return anything of real relevance. Thankfully, the application comes packaged with a handy bookmarklet that intuitively handles adding sites to your feed list.
It would seem that Mr. Inman has learnt a great deal from the development of Mint, but it is regrettable that Fever seems to lack some of the features that make his flagship analytics package so special. Perhaps the most prominent absence is that of any plugin architecture. Where Mint has Peppers, it would be nice for Fever to have Chills. Similarly, although Feverâ€™s installation process is both seamless and intuitive, the decision to opt for a self-hosted service is somewhat baffling. Additionally, while Fever does a fantastic job at weighting and recommending interesting content, it would be nice if the application put a greater visual emphasis on actual feed content.
All things considered, Fever is a brave attempt at breathing fresh air into the aggregation market, and certainly one that should not pass-by unnoticed. Although still in its infancy, early adopters can be confident that Inman has built himself a solid base for future expansion.
â€¢ Just like the application itself, Feverâ€™s feature set keeps things lean and mean, ditching all but the most essential functionality while still maintaining a high degree of flexibility.
â€¢ Youâ€™ll soon realise just how tactical the process of setting up feeds as either sparks or kindling is. Fever allows you to shape the content it delivers without sacrificing the ability to miss interesting stories from generally uninteresting sources.
â€¢ Fever makes use of the iPhoneâ€™s Webkit integration to deliver a killer-looking portable version of the service. Set it up as a Webclip, stick it on the Springboard and the content you love will (literally) be at your fingertips – anytime, anywhere.
â€¢ Lacks any sort of third-party API or plugin architecture.
â€¢ While the application is crafted beautifully, it would be nice to have the ability to hide the menu system to put a greater visual emphasis on content.
â€¢ While Feverâ€™s installation is quite painless and ultimately speedy, thereâ€™s no real reason for Fever to be a self-hosted service.
Need some feeds to get started? See Blogs We Read + Love
Posted on: 22/06/2009
Posted in: WebApp