Twitter and the Corridors of Power

I was amused (and not the only one, either) to notice that the UK’s Cabinet Office has recently launched a "Template Twitter strategy for Government Departments": I wonder if they’re thinking of reconsidering in view of the proven fragility and security-shakiness of Twitter, but I suspect not.

I am tempted to make a cheap shot related to the fact that the document is 20 pages long rather than 140 characters, but I suppose for a Whitehall Mandarin, 20 pages is probably the essence of brevity.

In fact, it turns out that Neil Williams, of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, who drew up the document, is capable of appreciating a good acronym. (And I owe a tip of the hat to e-Health Insider for drawing my attention to it). He describes himself as having JFDI inclinations. (For the purpose of this blog, we’ll render that as Just Flipping Do It, though the usual translation is a little saltier.) As a bit of a JFDI man myself, I’m impressed that he manages to maintain that worldview within one of the world’s great bureaucracies, and even more that he is able to slip that one into an official Cabinet Office blog. But then, he is Head of Corporate Digital Channels, which sounds fairly authoritative.

The real surprise, though (and here comes the tenuous link with security) is that the document is actually worth reading. Well, it won’t be everyone’s bedtime reading. But it does express some clear thinking about some of the implications and practicalities of using Twitter as a corporate tool. I’m not sure I buy into all of it myself, but I’d guess that quite different organizations far beyond the borders of the UK will at least find it useful as a starting point when considering a Project Initiation Document  that runs over 140 characters.

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Author David Harley, ESET

  • Thanks for the coverage here, and I’m pleased that you read the document and found it useful. A lot of the less-informed reaction to the (unexpected!) publicity around this document has been along the lines of ‘why is government wasting its time using a faddish social media tool’ – which is precisely why a 20 page document was worth writing, if you ask me. To make sure that we aren’t just jumping on the bandwagon, wasting tax payers’ money etc.

  • Thanks, Neil. As a UK taxpayer, that makes perfect sense to me. :)

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