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Fri Nov 16, 2012, 01:30 PM

When the Nerds Go Marching In: Obama's Tech Engineers


(l-r) Harper Reed, Dylan Richard, Mark Trammell

The Obama campaign's technologists were tense and tired. It was game day and everything was going wrong.

Josh Thayer, the lead engineer of Narwhal, had just been informed that they'd lost another one of the services powering their software. That was bad: Narwhal was the code name for the data platform that underpinned the campaign and let it track voters and volunteers. If it broke, so would everything else.

They were talking with people at Amazon Web Services, but all they knew was that they had packet loss. Earlier that day, they lost their databases, their East Coast servers, and their memcache clusters. Thayer was ready to kill Nick Hatch, a DevOps engineer who was the official bearer of bad news. Another of their vendors, StallionDB, was fixing databases, but needed to rebuild the replicas. It was going to take time, Hatch said. They didn't have time.

They'd been working 14-hour days, six or seven days a week, trying to reelect the president, and now everything had been broken at just the wrong time. It was like someone had written a Murphy's Law algorithm and deployed it at scale.

And THAT was the point. "Game day" was October 21. The election was still 17 days away, and this was a live action role playing (LARPing!) exercise that the campaign's chief technology officer, Harper Reed, was inflicting on his team. "We worked through every possible disaster situation," Reed said. "We did three actual all-day sessions of destroying everything we had built."


The President hugging Harper Reed as shown on his Instagram feed.

Long, Interesting Read Ahead, for the tech nerd in us: http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/11/when-the-nerds-go-marching-in/265325/

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Response to JaneyVee (Original post)

Fri Nov 16, 2012, 01:37 PM

1. So could these be the same guys

who wrecked Rove's system?

Honestly, I doubt it but I am glad to know that Obama used top-notch research at the peer-reviewed level to power various aspects of his campaign. This is the intelligent way to go about it. He chose not to use the axioms and bromides of campaigning, instead opted for a scientific approach. Just one more reason why I like him so much. He's the smart guy trying to get the kindergartners to toe the line.

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Response to oswaldactedalone (Reply #1)

Fri Nov 16, 2012, 01:42 PM

3. Hmm, the article does state they were 'hackers', but it also says that...

Orca was not even in the same category as Narwhal. It was like touting the iPad as a Facebook killer, or comparing a GPS device to an engine.

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Response to oswaldactedalone (Reply #1)

Fri Nov 16, 2012, 01:42 PM

4. Hubris, denial and their faith in somehow getting the best product for the lowest price is what

wrecked Rove's system.

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Response to JaneyVee (Original post)

Fri Nov 16, 2012, 01:40 PM

2. I understand being proud & wanting to explain or maybe boast a bit, but I don't think they should be

giving out their secrets.

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Response to Obamamite (Reply #2)

Fri Nov 16, 2012, 03:17 PM

7. With technology, next time there will be a set of yet unknown secrets. That is the way it works.

If republicans work to copy what these Techies did in 2011-2012 for a 2015-2016 campaign, the republicans will be well behind the eightball. Rest assured that because the coolest, best educated people always gather on our side, we will have a Tech advantage next time that can't be imagined now. All we need are good candidates.

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Response to JaneyVee (Original post)

Fri Nov 16, 2012, 01:52 PM

5. Community Organizer 200, CEO ZERO. How could that BE??? nt.

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Response to JaneyVee (Original post)

Fri Nov 16, 2012, 02:33 PM

6. Yay for the ultimate geek squad!

Great job to all the tech folks on the campaign. I know I was a recipient of all sorts of emails and text alerts - including about times when the President was at a rally or speaking somewhere. They also kept track of how much I donated so I could confirm they received it and they forwarded some great pics and videos.

Much appreciated and an important key in taking on the elitist of the elite wealthy rethug juggernaut!

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Response to BumRushDaShow (Reply #6)

Fri Nov 16, 2012, 04:30 PM

8. Great Read - Interesting Article Well Written Thanks

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Response to JaneyVee (Original post)

Fri Nov 16, 2012, 05:23 PM

9. OMG I LOVE these guys

I admit intelligence is my number one turn on in a guy!!!

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Response to JaneyVee (Original post)

Fri Nov 16, 2012, 05:32 PM

10. That article explains things well.

 

The best movie competition analogy for the two campaigns would be Star Trek vs. Wall Street.

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Response to JaneyVee (Original post)

Fri Nov 16, 2012, 05:41 PM

11. The Rs never tested Orca which failed miserably on election day

nfm

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Response to central scrutinizer (Reply #11)

Fri Nov 16, 2012, 06:56 PM

12. Apparently, hubris obviates the need to "test" real world stuff.

None of that reality based thinking for the Repubs...no sirree!

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