I have some exciting news: in a couple of weeks, I will be the new deputy director of technology at the Democratic National Committee. I’ll be helping to create software that helps get Democrats elected. It’s a great opportunity for me to do what I love for an organization that I passionately support. I hope to help make the technology department there top-notch in terms of software engineering practices, bringing what I’ve learned from having helped develop, deploy, and grow EveryBlock. And I’ll have some projects of my own, which will hopefully advance the state of campaign software somewhat. It’s especially exciting, too, to be able to collaborate with friends in Chicago working on that one campaign.
I have been volunteering on political campaigns—federal, state, and local races—for years, and have often lamented the state of campaign software. It’s partly understandable, because campaigns tend to be all-hands-on-deck, hair-on-fire affairs, where it’s hard to justify long-range planning and software development, even if it might make the lives of your staff, organizers and volunteers easier, since your organization may not even exist for more than a few months. And campaigns rarely have in-house software engineers, so opportunities to capture and encode knowledge in the form of software, and explore new technologies, are missed.
Obama For America gets this—that’s why they’ve hired like a start-up for this campaign cycle, recognizing that great software is a competitive advantage and no longer an afterthought you contract out for. And the DNC gets it, too, and that’s why I’m excited to join them. The chance to help re-elect this president, restore Democratic majorities in Congress, and also to help down-ballot Democrats across the country in this and future campaign cycles is one I couldn’t pass up.
I’ll be commuting to the DNC’s offices in Washington, D.C. from Baltimore on a regular basis, though I’ll still be working from home a couple of days each week, so that I won’t too miss much of this kind of stuff.
It’s a bittersweet development, because I’ll be leaving EveryBlock, which I helped found 4 years ago. With the success of the recent relaunch, though, I feel now is as good a time as any to step away. The site is in great hands, and the response from users to the new version has been enthusiastic. It couldn’t have a better home than msnbc.com, who have provided great guidance and resources. I’m thrilled with the success we’ve had and for how far it’s come, and I’m confident that it will continue to be the best place on the internet to help make your block a better place.
I am particularly grateful for having worked with my great EveryBlock colleagues. I’m humbled by them and their talents and work ethic. It was a privilege to learn from them and improve my craft, however modestly, by their examples.
For now, I’m focusing on winding down at EveryBlock, and getting prepared for a new commute (I’ll try to hack it with the MARC train and a bike) and a campaign season now fully engaged. It’s a thrilling opportunity, and I hope to make the most of it.