Former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore formally announced his bid for the Republican presidential nomination yesterday. In case you missed it (as I did until I came across Marshall Manson’s post at On Tap), you’re not alone. Here’s why:
1. If you Google “Jim Gilmore,” you need to scroll through 32 other sites before you get to GilmoreforPresident.com. Unless you’ve changed your preferences on Google.com, this means you must click through three pages of results (ask yourself when was the last time you went past the first page?). Indeed, as this techPresident chart shows, Gilmore’s campaign site is by far the hardest to find among all the candidates.
2. Equally discouraging, clicking on Google’s 36th result for “Jim Gilmore”—http://jimgilmore08.com/issues.htm, which is supposed to be a mirror to GilmoreforPresident.com—produces the message, “The requested URL /issues.htm was not found on this server.”
3. As soon as Gilmore for President loads, the home page hits you over the head with a video, which automatically starts playing, instead of allowing you, a la YouTube, to click “Play” at your discretion. This is not only bad etiquette (the equivalent of typing in all capital letters); it’s also technologically unsound, since it makes you averse to returning to the home page. (Incidentally, the same problem plagued the process for embedding videos from OURcountry.com, which is currently undergoing an upgrade.)
4. Worse, this video is not Gilmore’s announcement for president, but his announcement of an exploratory committee. To find the former, you need to click on a link.
5. While this link contains the video you want, it was uploaded using Adobe FlashPlayer, which does not allow embedding the video into your own blog.
6. The savvy user—if you’re still interested and patient enough—will then hop on over to YouTube. You search for “Jim Gilmore,” and the first video that appears comes from a self-described “official” GilmoreforPresident account. But this account only contains one video (the exploratory announcement), hasn’t been logged-into for two months, and goes by the handle “Ed Ruff,” not “Jim Gilmore.”
7. You realize something’s amiss, so you do another search for “Jim Gilmore.” This time, you click on the fourth result, titled “Jim Gilmore announces for president (Part One)” and uploaded by Gilmore4Pres. Finally, you’re able to watch, share, save and embed the governor’s announcement for president.
According to the AP, Gilmore “made his announcement in a Webcast sent out over his campaign’s Web site.” (As Gilmore himself notes, “We’re doing much of this, of course, over the Web page [sic] here today.”) This indicates that somebody in the campaign at least recognizes the Internet’s potential.
At this point, however, Gilmore’s online presence is causing him more harm than good. This is regrettable because it’s still very much correctable; in fact, with a robust about-turn, Gilmore could slide into the second tier of candidates.
In short, the Internet offers Jim Gilmore both the cheapest and the most effective chance to raise his profile. That he’s in over his head is understandable, but that he’s wasting the one bullet in his gun is not.
A version of this blog post appeared on TechPresident on May 2, 2007.
Addendum (5/3/2007): Rob Bluey points out another depressing detail: less than 10 weeks ago, Gilmore promised the weekly gathering of conservative bloggers that he would be the first blogger in chief.