Webjam - which describes itself as a 'social media eco-system' - is opening its doors today to a limited number of users who want to try out a Beta version of the service. The company is based in London UK, and is headed up by Yann Motte who used to be VP of Product Management for Yahoo Europe.
The service provides a common set of social publishing tools: blogging, content aggregation, and social networking - all wrapped up in a 'drag and drop' Ajax-driven interface. In many ways the service feels much like a start-page offering along the lines of Netvibes, mixed with the personal publishing and social aspects of Vox - including flexible privacy controls in which content can be made private or only viewable by a subset of users.
My favorite aspect of the service is the set of drag 'n' drop modules which can be added to a user's page - hence my comparison to Netvibes or any of the other Ajax start-pages. While the list of modules currently available is fairly small, within a few minutes I was able to create a blog, aggregate various RSS feeds (including pulling in my Flickr photos and YouTube videos) and add some free form text and images. Other modules include Google maps, weather forecasts, community members, and a tag cloud representing a user's interests. All of a page's content can be made public, private, or viewable by a particular community, and each individual module can also have its own privacy settings.
Webjam also has a similar feature to Ning, in that the service allows users to 'replicate' the functionality, layout, or style of an existing page. This makes getting to grips with Webjam a little less overwhelming for more novice users.
I asked Yann Motte how the company envisages the service being used, and he said that the most obvious examples are likely to include people publishing and sharing information with their community, such as work colleagues, family and friends, or with people in their local area e.g. a local club or resident association.
Webjam attempts to blend the drag 'n' drop modular functionality of a start-page, with the personal publishing and sharing aspects of a social network. However, as the service stands it has a fair way to go before it can compete with the best of breed in either area. Although it's worth remembering that the service has yet to launch properly, and so it's hard to get a feel for how the community aspects might be used by real users.
If you are a company about to launch an exciting new social web service or product and would like me to take a look, get in touch.