- Posted February 25, 2013 by
Quezon City, Philippines
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Obama's Social Media Teaches Filipino Netizens
Obama's social media specialist, Harper Reed addressed netizens at bloggers yesterday who attended the online/offline Edemokrasya conference at the Hyatt sponsored by US AID and the US Embassy Manila. Unknown to many, Reed has always been a maverick. In one of his interviews, he expressed that he was even surprised that Obama decided to hire him. This is one guy known for a sense of humor and he even once asked, "WHY can't we use sense of humor when engaging?". In short, life is serious, fine, but if we have to be wired, let's not all get " boxed-in wired " - but rather learn that we can laugh. Makes sense and laughter and jests are always positive.
Reed comes through as authentic because he doesn't come in a suit, his hair-do seems to be his trademark. He said once: " I wanna be comfortable, I wanna make sure I've come with my thinking cap on..." He was the Chief Engineer of Obama's social media which meant he was in charge of a huge team of techies to make sure that they were ON "building the most important pieces".Even Reed admits that he is very different from most who walk around the DC area adding, "most people don't look at me!". But the REAL secret of the Obama success is his ability to keep his team working and motivated - not by sending them affirmations on their cellphones or email - but by making sure that his people were comfortable. As long as the work gets done, it didn't matter if some on his team had tattooes or did their work more efficiently in the night. He says "just the understanding that they are gonna be different is what will help people work together".
So how did he do it? We hired engineers to do engineering. YES. Or you want rice cake you go to the rice cake store - THERE. He knew how to "smartly execute" (without f****g up, he says) He knew he needed a platform that would work and that was NARWHAL, which was a concept that the best would be an API so that one can build on top of it. API naturally meant more freedom. API allowed more contribution apps , more platforms so towards the end of the campaign there were about thousands of servers. So to him then, failure was NOT an option. People, even in the tech world initially thought that he didn't know what he was doing because he was giving his team a lot of leeway - and that went for his apps and platform too. Well obviously he prefers the use of open source (like how many of us love Ubuntu?) and YES, despite ALL his team did it.
I was observing his reactions to the questions and he did seem to control his being usually "uppity" and he tried to crack two jokes. He was asked about how to reach rural areas and he said that there is the cellphone (and usually even cells have apps like FB and Twitter these days) adding that was a problem too because there are counties in the US who may not be wired but then they have friends who are and they have mobile phones. He didn't suggest text blasts but an election phone app would be useful. Seriously. (I had in mind something like Guard My Angel, an app that tells everyone connected to you if you're in trouble -- I even wonder if we can use that for election hot spots).
Obviously, he believes in different "influencers" when engaging to reach the grassroots and he knows that the old politics no longer applies despite the fact that he recognizes that POLITICIANS DO NOT WANT CHANGE. Asked about political dynasties he said that the best way for those who wish to express their disapproval to it ONLINE is to show in numbers and engagement that they are capable of having a foothold - I guess he meant having the tenacity of those who rallied online for the RH Bill. Yes, he understands Twitter and Facebook because his former job was "building communities".
Pic by Noemi Dado