Reed strives to make an impact

Harper Reed ’01

Harper Reed ’01 is a hacker/engineer who builds paradigm-shifting tech and leads others to do the same. Harper loves using the enormity of the Internet to bring people together, whether as chief technology officer of Obama for America, chief technology officer of, or on his own projects. Harper and his Obama for America team created Dashboard, a site that connects volunteer teams and acts as an online component of the field office. You can often find Harper playing with new technology, looking for something to hack, or enjoying life in Chicago with his wife, Hiromi Nakazawa ’01.

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Q:    What did you learn on the campaign that you weren’t expecting?

A:    I learned the value of people. I obviously knew how important people were, but as a technologist we are often tasked with replacing human actions and work. The campaign demonstrated how important people ultimately are in our world. People powered the entire campaign and did amazing things. Without all our wonderful volunteers and our grassroots organization we would never have achieved what we achieved.

Q:    What’s the most important thing you learned at Cornell?

A:    I took a lot from the community that Cornell offers. I don’t think I can name one specific fact or lesson. I can say that communication skills and interpersonal relationship skills that are required by the Cornell community are a constant help in my daily world.

Q:    What person on campus had the biggest impact on you?

A:    Jim Freeman taught me a bunch of valuable lessons: 1) study, 2) don’t waste time (it is precious), and 3) make sure you are leaving an impact.

Q:    Who are your favorite authors?

A:    I religiously track my books and I can’t possibly pick even a small set. Instead I will say the authors that I have read the most and then what I am reading now. My most-read authors are Dan Simmons, Charles Stross, Vernor Vinge, Haruki Murakami and Alastair Reynolds. I am currently excited about Paolo Bacigalupi and Ramez Naam.

Q:    What qualities do you most admire in others?

A:    The ability to stand up for one’s self. The ability to communicate clearly. The ability to be humble. Confidence.

Q:    What makes you happiest?

A:    Hanging out with my awesome partner, Hiromi. And reading a great book. Also, hacking on computers.

Q:    What historical event fascinates you most?

A:    I am very interested in strife. I like to read about humans surviving. It also is a good reminder of paths not to follow. I don’t know if there is one historical event that fascinates me the most. This is a terrible answer.