Around Black Britain

The “smart” revolution is not smart enough, yet

Black Communities need fast-paced knowledge networks of thought and action

By Thomas L Blair, Chronicleworld, 18 February 2012 ©

As the “Smartphone” revolution spreads, you would be tempted to think this will change things for Black communities – from hell-pits of despair to incubators of creative energy. However, think again.

You may have the world in the palm of your hands; spend lots of money on all the hi-tech smart phones, tablets and the electronic gizmos the manufacturers can sell you; but you are smart only if you use them to organise and build strong Black communities.

This may come as a shock to you. Nevertheless, we would like to generate reader comments that all can share.

Inspired smartphoners are paving freedomways to the future. These are non-profit organisations that help their local community in some way. They include mutual aid and voluntary organisations, social enterprises and charities.

Smartphone organising successes deserve wider notice. Here’s three questions.

  • Who is mobile-ising for political empowerment based on rising educational standards?
  • Who is networking for local economic development that creates social capital?
  • Are you blogging for enterprising, prideful community service organisations?

Some of the most popular smartphone-linked projects promote better crisis management, locally and globally

Compared with the rapacious consumerism and personal vanity with which it is associated, smartphone use can be central to cultural, political and economic forces of change – an Arab spring in the abyss of inner cities.

Smartphone activists can help communities lobby against the double deficit of cuts in services and privatisation. They can bring vital amenities such as shops, centres, youth clubs and sports halls, cinemas and pubs back to life in riot-prone districts.

On occasion, the widespread use of mobile telephony can generate savings. For example, Faith-based initiatives could connect people through lending to alleviate poverty – a lifeline in hard times like the present. Micro-credit projects based on kith and kin — like esusu and pardner schemes – can cut out banks and finance repayable loans.

Network to protect and power the future of Black communities

Smartphone revolutionaries can increase the impact of sympathetic hardworking public sector employees; they can network for the social workers and home helps who assist the most vulnerable in society. They can lobby human resources people, the courts and leaders in every town hall department.

There are plenty of other possibilities, too, to make smartphones work for social responsibility. Housing estate residents armed with smartphones could lobby for sustainable, environmentally friendly, electricity-generating schemes that pay out a return. Small business and workers co-ops could network to renew iconic old factories, rail sheds and warehouses.

Working together, people can drive change locally and globally – change that is sensitive to, and takes account of, different local cultures and needs. This is the really smart revolution, the foundation of Knowledge Networks of Thought and Action.

We welcome your ideas and ideals for publication, with editing. Email me at

Thomas L. Blair is a sociologist and political blogger on the Chronicleworld “for creative renewal in Black Britain and Afro-Europe”. His work is honoured in the British Library’s archive of “social, historic and culturally significant web-based material from the UK domain”. Go to Cyberaction for Social Change; and to – Changing Black Britain He is also a featured columnist and top prizewinner in the blogging competition on – citizen journalism for all