Yesterday I purchased and installed Fever, the self-hosted feed reader/personal recommendation service from Shaun Inman. I’m still learning the ropes, but so far I’m really impressed by both the functionality and the design of the user interface. Shaun has once again done a great job.
Since its launch, Fever has become the preferred feed reader of a number of people. Thanks in large part to Shawn Blanc, a number of new Fever users have recently subscribed to my blog. Prior to Fever, this was the level of connection I had with my readers:
Graphs and charts outlining my readers’ choice of RSS reader, browser, operating system, etc. were the only indicators (outside of personal contact) of who was reading my blog.
While for the majority of my readers this hasn’t and will not change, for the growing percentage of readers using Fever, suddenly anonymity is no longer guaranteed. In my Mint stats, as people access my site via their Fever installation, their domain name is also tracked. Every time someone visits my site from their Fever app, I am able to see exactly who subscribes to me, and with that information I am able to visit their site.
There are some very cool benefits to this circumstance. I now have the opportunity to return the favour to my readers and subscribe to their blogs. I am able to make contact through email or their comments section. I am able to get a much clearer sense of the types of people who are reading what I have to say.
At the same time, however, this poses some unique questions about how to approach this new level of openness. Is it appropriate to email someone who subscribes to me, thanking them for taking the time to read what I have to say even if they’ve never made direct contact with me? Are there other security/privacy issues that arise when I am made aware of who is reading my blog? How will knowing who is reading affect how I write?
I’m interested to see how the Fever user community grows and begins to interact with one another in a very new way. I hope that Fever will continue to integrate social connections between its users, beyond the side-effects of having a self-hosted app. It could really open up a whole new way of sharing news, finding information, and beginning dialogues around what we are collectively reading.