Believe it or not, the outrage over the new Google Reader design is leaking out of the Sharebro circles and becoming rather deafening. As we mentioned at the launch of the redesign on Monday, people on Twitter responded immediately with (mostly) angry tweets about the design and the absence of the sharing features, enjoyed by the fanatics use the Sharebro monicker. The night before the public launch, however, former Google Reader product manager Brian Shih trashed the upcoming redesign, calling it a "disaster" (emphasis his) and a "desolate experience," in a lengthy post that surfaced on tech blogs Wednesday morning.
Shih's post is an entertaining read, especially if you're upset about the changes to Reader: "When you log into Reader, what the hell do you think your primary objective is? Did you answer 'stare at a giant header bar with no real estate saved for actual reading'? Congrats, here's your prize:"
But it's also an insightful glance into the Google product development process:
Reader is a product built to consume information, quickly. We designed it to be very good at that one thing. G+ is an experience built around browsing (similar to Facebook) and socializing. Taking the UI paradigm for G+ and mashing it onto Reader without any apparent regard for the underlying function is awful and it shows.
Sarah Perez at TechCrunch flags a potential solution for the design woes with a Chrome extension called Google Reader Rectifier. Perez says the extension "helps fix the whitespace issue" but "Reader seems slower after its install."
The sharing features, however, are likely gone for good. "We understand that some may not like this change," a Google spokesperson told The Atlantic Wire, after the launch of the redesign. "Retiring Reader's sharing features wasn't a decision that we made lightly, but in the end, it helps us focus on fewer areas and build an even better experience across all of Google."
The light at the end of the tunnel is a new site called HiveMined that's currently being developed by self-identified Sharebro Francis Cleary. It's designed to serve as a replacement for the old Reader, complete with all of the social sharing features that Google decided to can. Cleary told us on Monday that he understood the thinking behind pushing people to Google+ but already the switchover destroyed his curated follow list. "I just got the new Reader," Cleary wrote in an email, "Where are the people I followed and who followed me? Poof gone. They didn't save those relationships at all."
Google does provide the option of downloading your follower data in a "custom Reader JSON format," but we couldn't figure out how to sync this file up with Google+. And if a tech blogger and a professional developer can't figure it out, we doubt that the every day Reader user will have much luck. Generally speaking, the switch to Google+ hasn't proved to be a very easy process. Actually, it's painfully confusing, as we learned when putting together this how-to guide. We've also asked Google to explain the JSON import/export process and will update you when they get back to us. In the meantime, this all-caps tweet says it all: "MY GOOGLE READER JUST CHANGED AND I AM SO MAD. UGH GOOGLE I QUIT YOU."