Book review: The Twitters of Sir Bonar Neville-Kingdom

Book review: The Twitters of Sir Bonar Neville-Kingdom

Summary: To the Institute for Government last night for the launch of Bonar's new book. Of course, in my day it would have been unthinkable for a senior civil servant to write a book.

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To the Institute for Government last night for the launch of Bonar's new book. Of course, in my day it would have been unthinkable for a senior civil servant to write a book. But Bonar has explained to me that in his job as HMG's data-sharing czar he must do many things that once would have had him sent to Wales to count sheep. One of these, apparently, is communicating directly to the public via something called 'Twit'. Or do I mean 'The Twitter'? I suppose it's not too distasteful as long as one can avoid dealing too much with any response. He says it's important to keep the news media out of it, so it can be used for official purposes. Of course, he's perfectly right when he says that the CESG pretty much invented all this stuff, so it's really ours in any case. And so on.

The Twitter account known as @sirbonar, whose owner styles himself Sir Bonar Neville-Kingdom, is, of course, a fake. 'Sir Bonar' tweets fatuously that his postings are subject to Chatham House rules (that is, secret) and burbles absurdly about government IT: he favours ID cards, opposes file-sharing, favours capturing as much data about British citizens as possible in a cheaper and greener 'G-Cloud' and sharing it throughout government inside a 'ring of soup'. He is especially fatuous on the subject of computer security. He also claims friendship with Lily Allen, who campaigned last year against music piracy.

And now the first year of tweets has been collected into The Twitters of Sir Bonar Neville-Kingdom. There are two reasons to read it. First, it's actually pretty funny and does a good job of highlighting some of the absurdities of many of the government's IT policies. The second reason is that if you're unsure how to use social media, this book demonstrates every mistake you could possibly make.

Forget those well-meaning tutorials on how to use Twitter to promote yourself and your business. Just do everything the opposite of Sir Bonar, and you can't go far wrong.

The Twitters of Sir Bonar Neville-Kingdom By Sir Bonar Neville-Kingdom Ideal Government Press 231pp ISBN: 978-1-4461-5332-1 £12

Wendy M Grossman

Topic: Reviews

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