Web 2.0 review: Carbonmade
Carbonmade is a Web application which allows you to create and host an online portfolio. Creating a portfolio can be a lot of work and take up all your time. Carbonmade offers a service which allows you to quickly set up a portfolio without any knowledge of creating webpages. This sounds somewhat like a paradox, since a portfolio is supposed to be a creative expression of your work and templates are usually restricting.
Carbonmade is listed as a Web 2.0 service on Listible’s Complete List of Web 2.0 Products and Services. But what exactly is Web 2.0? The debate about what Web 2.0 exactly is has not been settled yet, but Wikipedia defines Web 2.0 as
Web 2.0 is a term often applied to a perceived ongoing transition of the World Wide Web from a collection of websites to a full-fledged computing platform serving web applications to end users. Ultimately Web 2.0 services are expected to replace desktop computing applications for many purposes. (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_2.0)
Carbonmade serves as a Web 2.0 application because it allows users to set up a webportfolio without the need for a personal homepage and the tools to create a homepage.
Web 2.0, a phrase coined by O’Reilly Media in 2004, refers to a supposed second-generation of Internet-based services — such as social networking sites, wikis, communication tools, and folksonomies — that let people collaborate and share information online in previously unavailable ways. (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_2)
Carbonmade allows you to tag your portfolio with keywords that describe your expertise or skills thus creating a folksonomy. In this way the people behind the portfolios are connected through a network. It doesn’t quite feel like a social network since there is no communication between the members and the only way to contact a member is through an e-mail address (if supplied). The network is also not connected to other networks, so if you are actually looking for work just pray an employer is familiar with Carbonmade. Of course you can always spread your Carbonmade portfolio URL everywhere.
Setting up an account is easy, quick and free. Unfortunately free means that there are some restrictions so that you can only add 5 projects with a total of 35 images. Of course you can always upgrade to the pro-version for $12 a month allowing you create 50 projects with a total of 500 images and 10 videos.
Creating projects and adding pictures to a project doesn’t feel intuitive. When you start a project you are asked to “Choose an image to start building your project”. This makes me assume this picture will be the starting point of the project/project thumbnail on the frontpage. But the pictures and the project thumbnail appear to be uploaded randomly. Although it is easy to change the order of the pictures and choosing a new project thumb, it is rather confusing.
Free often means limited, especially when an upgrade to a pro-version is available. You can choose between a black or white background and a serif or non-serif font. You can also change the appearance of your gallery by either setting it to horizontal or vertical thumbnails. It is hardly possible to customize your portfolio, making it look pretty much the same as all the other free portfolios.
Even though it is listed in Listible’s Web 2.0 list, it doesn’t quite feel 2.0. Sure, it uses 2.0 features like tagging, but what is the added value? If you quickly want to set up a small portfolio to show to a client Carbonmade is a decent choice. But for more demanding users it is just too rigid.