I met Matt Zito at that SMBIZ4ME Conference I went to last week. I had done a little work before with Maine's Creative Economy (one of my old bosses is on the Maine Arts Commission). I enjoyed talking with him and the idea of having a place online to connect with other people in Maine who have similar "creative" work. (Myspace is great for music and film but kind of leaves out other professions as far as major networking opportunities.)

Here is my take on www.mainecreates.com.


The Bad

The site is a little cumbersome (I have been trying to add to my ideas unsuccessfully for about ten minutes, though I am admittedly not the most web-saavy person). It is hard to browse for something unless you know specifics. For example, I can look at all the cabinetmakers on the site or all people in Ellsworth but there seems to be no "here's everyone" place on the site (you have to select one user at a time). The very specificness of the categories also makes it on one hand, easy to glimpse what people specialize in but on the other, harder to just "run into" people.

The other thing about the site is you can only have 10 connections total. (That seems to mean ten people/profiles, though I'm able to send messages to people I'm not connected to, it just involves an extra step). Limiting the number of connections seems odd; the more connections you make on a social networking site, the longer you stay on it, right? I'm also unsure about how the site determines my "possible connections". Is it by location, or perhaps similar work?

And the site will start charging for access after a year. Hopefully, the revenue can be generated by advertising or some other way besides charging users in the future.

The Good (Because despite my long paragraphs above, the site is mostly good)

Mainecreates.com is clearly a site with a lot of thought put into it (both in design and information organizing). This is clear because people are joining it in addition to myself. (It's less than a month old.) The creative economy is a dynamic part of Maine that needs to be celebrated and needs to connect people.

On a more selfish end, I enjoyed how easy it was for me to create a profile as well as how easy I found people I knew (or people I want to know). If you live in Maine and have a creative job, sign up for an account. It's free and you might meet some people to collaborate with.

I also see that Matt is taking every opportunity to present this site to people (he wasn't impatient talking to me at all, even though I'm just one blogger). The guts to go out on a limb for people who don't have a ton of money but need representation (I'm guessing most creative folks in Maine do their craft as a supplement to their income).

So spread the word about this website if you know someone who could benefit.

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