Friday, June 13, 2008

YokWay moves forward

Invited by Stephan Osmont, co-founder of YokWay, I did a try on this new service about collaborative bookmarking.

In the few months, we have seen several new services on bookmarking and online data management. The hottest buzz right now is Twine and FriendFeed. The less known YokWay, however, has the potential to be a serious competitor.

The YokWay service allows people to share their bookmarked items with friends. Yokway adopts the Digg fashion that requires users to post items one at a time instead of the fashion of FriendFeed that automatically pulls items for users through subscribed RSS services.

Once an item is posted, it is categorized into "What's Yoking?", which is similar to such as "What's dugg?" or "What's twined?" Users can conveniently switch the viewing perspective among the Yokings made by themselves, by their specified friends, or by the general public. YokWay allows users to add comments for an item and to vote for the items based on an scale up to five stars.

One thing that sets YokWay apart from Digg is to organize stored items with topics. YokWay calls them "My Sharing Circles". Anybody can create a new "Sharing Circle". And anybody can choose to "subscribe" to an existing circle and/or "join" an existing circle. By "subscribe", readers choose to follow the topic without the privilege of posting on the topic. By "join", readers ask for the right of posting on this topic. The request of "subscribe" is granted immediately when it is asked. By contrast, the request of "join" must be approved by the owner of the circle.

The sharing circles in YokWay is semantically identical to the twines in Twine. But the implemented functions of sharing circles is weaker than those of twines. By using Twine, we can flexibly specific tags in various categories and easily share items among twines. YokWay has not provided such a strong flexibility. In fact, during my test it is even not straightforward for me to add an existing item to a newly created circle. YokWay must need to enhance the implementation of these functions in order to engage more users.

In the email, Stephan emphasizes to me that YokWay is "sharing information relies on a best of breed semantic engine that will make Yokway a potential leader in the Web 3.0 era." I am impressed by the claim but the beta service has not clearly illustrated how the new semantic technologies have been engaged in use. For example, tagging is weakly supported by YokWay. Automatic machine tagging is a particular demonstration of performing semantic technologies in a Web document management system. But I cannot find this demonstration in the current YokWay beta service, let it alone the other more complicated use of semantic technologies.

As what I have suggested for Twine, new service providers must think of innovative ways to illustrate the use of new technologies through creative user interface design. Otherwise, users can hardly be impressed by the new technologies when they cannot feel. Twine has this problem in this architecture. YokWay, however, has even more problems on this issue. It seems that YokWay tries to produce a better Web-resource-management service by mixing several of the good design issues made by Digg, Twine, and FriendFeed altogether. This type of mixing is a good strategy unless the designers themselves already have a unique vision over the topic. Otherwise, it is easier to be a compromise that the service itself loses its identity. Such a problem of losing identity is a deadly issue for any new service. Unfortunately, however, I feel that YokWay has this problem in serious.

Final Address

In summary, YokWay is a new service for managing data on the Web. It tries to integrate many handy existing Web services into a uniform platform so that users can get the best experiences on organizing their Web resources through the service. I must confess that the service is so far so good on its main goal and it actually provides several really impressive features such as the integration of Google Map service within comments.

Besides all the good things YokWay provides for users, the most severe problem of YokWay at this moment is the lack of identity. The service is not impressive in its architecture comparing to its direct competitors such as Digg, Twine, and FriendFeed. YokWay tries to include all the good features of its competitors but eventually it loses its own uniqueness. When I use YokWay, I can see that this feature likes Twine and another feature likes FriendFeed. But I would like to ask what the identity of YokWay is.

The most crucial thing for YokWay at this moment is to hire a truly visionary thinker to direct the design of a new architecture. Through my testing, I am certain that YokWay has good enough technology to support its growth. A visionary thinker may immediately leverage the service to a distinctive level by forming an impressive identity for the service.


dinesh said...

Heard this news earlier today. Citibank is currently being driven/financed by middle eastern interests and money so i don't know how in trouble they are if at all, but wachovia is a different story.


Gyan Mohan said...

I think that sharing circles is wonderful idea taken out. And bookmarks are also quite common.

Wide Circles