Barnett is a native New Yorker. He is a graduate of the Horace Mann School and New York University's Gallatin School of Individualized Study, where he studied City Planning and the built environment. Barnett lived abroad in Italy for a year, observing life in the European Union and studying human-figure drawing. He returned to New York with a deep-rooted sense of civic responsibility and enrolled in the Introduction to Architecture Program at Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture, Preservation, and Planning, and began working at the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation, a subsidiary of the Empire State Development Corporation. Simultaneously, Barnett, reinvigorated and re-launched Why Tuesday? as the nation's premier video blog for election-related content. Barnett also serves as Executive Director of the Ultimate College Bowl, an unprecedented effort conceived by Why Tuesday? to register every eligible US college student to vote in the 2008 elections.