Obama’s Head Technologist shares how digital developments changed the 2012 campaign

8 October 2013

Image of Harper Reed talks to Alexandra Park School studentsA self proclaimed-computer geek who was ‘not so great at a school’, Harper Reed spoke to 120 year 12 students from Media, Politics and IT classes about how he became ‘probably one of the coolest guys ever’, and his experiences as the Chief Technology Officer for Barack Obama’s 2012 election campaign.

Harper illustrated to the students what such a role entailed, outlining in particular how changes to the technology being used by the campaign opened up new possibilities, particularly with regards to mobilising voters. From fundraising through targeted emails to recruiting via volunteering apps, Harper gave examples of how technology transformed outreach capabilities. He also drew on his unique insights to describe what made the 2012 presidential campaign in America so different to others. Iraj Felfeli, the teacher who applied to Speaker for Schools, was delighted that students had such in-depth access to material that is unattainable to most.

“What apps should I be looking out for?” was a question Harper posed to the students, professing that young people are the real barometer for what works in technology.

As one of the founders of online t-shirt empire Threadless.com, and a long time ‘hacker’, he also spoke about his general love of coding. Comments about how coding is actually not too hard to learn were particularly pertinent given the introduction of computer programming into the national curriculum.