Worried that Google Reader will fall "victim to fashion," Kevin Fox is willing to drop everything in order to save the product he designed, and his friends want him to fix Gmail while he's at it. Fox wrote in a blog post that "the stripping of social functionality is only one of many significant problems that have come from repainting the product with the broad brush of Google's new visual style guide." He continues:
As the former lead designer for Google Reader, I offer my services to Google, rejoining for a three month contract in order to restore and enhance the utility of Google Reader, while keeping it in line with Google's new visual standards requirements. I will put my current projects on hold to ensure that Google Reader keeps its place as the premier news reader, and raises the bar of what a social newsreader can be.
Reserving little enthusiasm, commenters on Google+ swooned over the idea — in several different languages. "Thank you Kevin. That will save the world. Reading what friends share is what I live for," wrote one. "If Google doesn't call you back, you could team up with Francis Cleary and his HiveMined project, a Reader alternative," suggested another. "Kevin, can you do gmail too please? Please please please!" begged another. One of Fox's followers and perhaps one of the Iranian freedom fighters who used Reader's now defunct as a social network to organize after the government shut down Facebook and Twitter wrote, "thank youممنون ," the Farsi word for "grateful."
Fox is the second former Google employee who worked on Reader to protest the changes, and this is his second attempt to intervene in Google's increasingly unpopular attempt to push people's sharing habits away from the Reader ecosystem and on to Google+. Last week, Fox offered another insider-inspired solution for how to retool the sharing features, rather than remove them in another post:
Rebuild Google Reader's social sharing using the Google Plus API as a foundation. You make existing Google Reader users happy, you broaden their reach by extending the shares seamlessly into Google Plus, and you make a showcase for third-party developers on the kinds of products and services that can be built to enhance and extend Google Plus.
People seem to be getting more upset by the minute about the new changes, and signs that the dissatisfaction is now simmering over Google's flagship non-search product, Gmail, must worry the bean counters in Mountain View. To be fair, it's not uncommon for users of any product to gripe about a redesign, but now that its former employees start contemplating teaming up to build substitutes one has to wonder how Google will respond. We've reached out to our contact there to see how seriously they're taking the offer and will update you if we hear back.