YokWay! is headed by Cyril Moutran and Stéphane Osmont, both of whom come with resumes featuring stops at Vignette after two years at Netscape apiece. The pair have been working full-time on the project since late 2006, and are said to be launching in the next couple weeks. But you can log in to the service now through this link, seemingly with no restrictions.
The mission statement for YokWay! is, as with other lifestreaming and discovery sites, aimed to helping you share items you find interesting, and collaborate with your peers. (See the screen capture below of the Welcome screen)
Yet, unlike other services we've covered here in the past, YokWay! takes an old media approach to consuming the content, with words like "Channels" and a "Magazine", with each site subsection serving a different purpose.
My Magazine is a collection of all shared items from me and all my contacts within YokWay!. It's most similar to the Adam Stiles' LinkRiver or FriendFeed in this sense, in that I can see all items shared from friends in one place. However, unlike LinkRiver, it offers comments, and unlike both services, you can rate a posted item from one to five stars, and each posted site or item features a full thumbnail. (See below for an example. My comment is highlighted.)
My Memory quickly shows me those items which I've posted to YokWay!, without images or details, including comments, views or ratings.
My Blog shows everything from My Memory, but with full detail, including ratings, comments and view detail, as well as showing me all the contacts I have in YokWay!. This is most similar to my own stream within LinkRiver, or my own dedicated feed in FriendFeed. (See mine below)
While I'm mentioning LinkRiver and FriendFeed in the comparisons to YokWay!, I think it's more like the proverbial "Digg for Friends" that Dave Winer and others have been craving. Items get posted, and are seen only by the friends who follow you. YokWay! also features a wide array of subcategories, so instead of grouping data by popular Web services, as the lifestreaming folks do, it aims to put your content in the correct buckets, be they "Video", "Travel", "Software", "Innovation", "News" or many others. In case you were concerned, there's even a channel for "LOLCat", if you're so inclined. However, by default, most submissions go to "_root" and are seen by all. It's this "Channel" service that's unique, giving you the option to subscribe to as many of these channels as you like, making you not limited by users, but by content. Based on the Channels you choose, your Magazine automatically builds. (See some options below)
YokWay! features a clean, if at times spartan, interface. Adding contacts from the existing list of users is very easy, as you can see all users, and just have to click the "Add to Contacts" button to add them to "My Magazine". There isn't yet a way to invite users who aren't yet YokWay! contacts, but I would assume that would be a near-term addition as the site debuts.
Adding comments, like on FriendFeed, is also very easy. For any shared item, I can click "Add a Comment" and type in the textbox. If an item from one contact is particularly interesting, I can also click "Share" and send it to any of my existing contacts, or surprisingly, I can send this item to a contact not using YokWay! at all, simply by posting their e-mail address. (I should point out that in my one test, this didn't yet seem to work)
YokWay! looks a lot like a number of other promising Web services I've run into over the last few months - aggressive, clean, and happy to add new levels of interactivity to existing content through leveraging existing contacts with similar likes and interests. While many are clamoring for the perfect solution to integrate RSS with comments, or to reduce the amount of noise at other social bookmarking and aggregation sites, YokWay! is trying to do just that, with ratings, filters by channel, and of course, comments. For a service that wasn't even supposed to be out yet, they're already ahead of some I've seen that said they're ready.
Get your login to YokWay! now. You can find me here.