March 31, 2008

Yokway's Social Sharing Site Launches In Beta

At the beginning of the month, I profiled an early edition of Yokway!, an interesting Digg-like derivative for small social circles of friends interested in similar topics. Now, nearly a month later, the site is ready to open up for beta users, having upgraded their user interface, adding search functionality, and reorganizing the site to better help users find friends interested in similar topics. And while Yokway! doesn't yet have the kind of buzz behind it that FriendFeed has developed, it debuts with a number of handy items that the popular social aggregation site doesn't yet have nailed.

Yokway's central offering is a site that lets you view items shared from your friends. Unlike some other lifestreaming services, which pull data from RSS feeds via services around the Web, Yokway requires users to post items one at a time, like Digg, select a topic, and provide a comment. This is called "Yoking", to be used as in the phrase, "What's Yoking?", also translated as "What's Happening?"

The Yokway! stream in action with two shared items.

The "What's Yoking?" stream has three modes, much like FriendFeed does, offering a "my network" stream with updates from myself and all friends, one just for my activity, and a third, for "everyone", encompassing all Yokway users.

Running alongside the "What's Yoking?" stream is a "Recent Activity" board, which shows not just what's been posted recently, but who may have rated an item (from one to five stars), when they did it, and if they made comments or added new contacts.

In this early beta phase, the "Recent Activity" encompasses the last 12 hours, but undoubtedly, as users increase, it could provide a live, to the minute, feed.

Beyond the basics, what sets Yokway apart from FriendFeed is the use of topics, which Yokway calls "My Sharing Circles". Anybody can create a new "Sharing Circle", and I immediately joined a few that are likely no surprise to you, including "Web 2.0 Technologies", "Startups", "Faebook", and "Semantic Web". Clicking on any sharing circle shows all shares within the circle, as well as comments, the total number of views, and their rating.

Another pleasant feature from Yokway is the ability to state your relationship to a contact. While with many services, including Twitter and FriendFeed, you're either a "friend" or you're not, Yokway has an option to mark a contact as a friend, family or coworker. While I don't yet see how this is used at this stage, the groundwork is there to maybe share items with family or coworkers only, for example, or it could be to show other contacts how you know a contact they're not familiar with.

The service will have an uphill road to climb to take on sites like FriendFeed or Digg who have significant market traction, but its features are certainly interesting, and the team has done a lot of work in the last four weeks to upgrade the user interface. If you would like to start using Yokway, head to and post your e-mail address to get a beta account. You can find me here: Yokway!: LouisGray.