Are you a Republican running for office? Do you have $50? Then you can put your campaign online via a new tool called Netboots, designed to get everyone and their mother a cheap, accessible platform with minimal expense.
Netboots is certainly looking for its chunk of Republican campaign cash, but like many politically-focused firms, they have a larger goal: improving the GOP’s standing on the internet. The bigger question facing Netboots and other bottom-dollar political tech firms is how far they go towards accomplishing that goal.
“The ambitions for Netboots are to get more people online,” said Abigail Alger, a new media strategist at Terra Eclipse, which owns Netboots. “It would be fantastic to get every town council candidate on Netboots. It’s perfectly priced to do exactly what they need to do.”
Their system is especially friendly to those with limited web experience. Candidates can design a site with minimal effort, and users can be almost technically-illiterate while still being able to view photos, join social networking sites to connect with the candidate, and donate money to a campaign.
“They’re a technology company, and they know that they’re not going to be able to service the 50,000 elections that are out there every year. So they want a way to expand their product and their market in the sense that it offers good effective tools that are easy for them to maintain without too much work,” said David All, president of the David All Group, a new media strategies company.
But All said the problem with such a cheap, universal approach to using the technology is that it provides candidates with the correct tools, without necessarily providing them with a correct platform.
“At the end of the day, Rome wasn’t built with Craftsmen tools,” said All. “I can’t emphasize enough how important strategy is. So many people don’t even understand…what the goals are.”
As president of a company who provides advice as to how to pursue that strategy, All is in a particularly good position to advocate for such an all-encompassing tech strategy, rather than an specific tech platform like Netboots.
But Alger thinks Netboots might be a low-budget answer to the strategy All is talking about, because Netboots enables users to see so many features in one place. Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, email databases, calendars, and campaign contributions are all included in the site's standard layout.