The Download: Perry Hewitt, Harvard’s chief digital officer

Harvard University’s first chief digital officer, Perry Hewitt, says that when it’s time to unplug. she likes to take long walks.

PAT GREENHOUSE/GLOBE STAFF
Harvard University’s first chief digital officer, Perry Hewitt, says that when it’s time to unplug. she likes to take long walks. PAT GREENHOUSE/GLOBE STAFF

Perry Hewitt is the first chief digital officer at Harvard University, where she oversees the school’s digital strategy, communications and engagement for the general public, media, and their alumni worldwide. We asked her to share her digital habits with the Download.

What device can’t you live without?

Definitely my iPhone 6. It’s in my hand all the time and is the right size. From video watching to snapchatting, it’s my primary information source. I didn’t want the phablet.

What’s the first app you open on your phone?

Definitely text messages. Usually they’re work messages or a string of animated gifs from friends. Then email, Twitter and Snapchat.

How long have you been using Snapchat?

I love it, it’s my favorite social network, in that it offers a quick view of what’s going on in my friends’ days, plus, I work with a lot of young people. I knew it was going to do well because it was the minimum viable product for communication for teenage boys. It’s low cost and it’s low risk because ostensibly everything disappears.

Do you actually believe that?

My favorite saying about that is: If it’s pixels it’s public.

How do you take in your news?

A string of lifehacks keep me informed. I use Feedly to let me scan the universe really quickly and I have Ifttt, which creates recipes to pop-up things I want to know about the minute I want to know them. Nuzzel lets me know what my friends are sharing, and for sharing things back out I use Buffer. I schedule two to three tweets a day.

What keeps you organized?

Evernote for sure, across all platforms all the time, with a maniacal tabbing system.

What’s the last app you downloaded?

Reserve. I eat out a lot, and Reserve is to dining a little bit the way Uber is to car travel. You’re paying a fee but you’re getting convenience back.

How many unopened e-mails are currently in your inbox?

I try to touch everything only once with a pretty dismal success rate. In my office, I’ve tried to create a culture where we can delete the noise e-mails: the “thank you” e-mails and the “me too” e-mails, but it’s a large battle to fight.

Who’s the last person you texted?

My sister. We text 10-15 times a day on everything: She’s my clothing concierge, offers recipe help and is an advice source. She’s my best friend. She lives in Connecticut and is 21 years older than I am.

How do you unplug?

Travel and remembering travel. Every week I go for long dog walks with my husband in the evenings, or on my own on Sunday mornings, and during those times I don’t have any device with me. The act of walking can help solve a lot of problems.

Know someone who wants to share their digital habits? E-mail us at thedownload@globe.com.

Janelle Nanos can be reached at janelle.nanos@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @janellenanos.
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