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Offline ribbit

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The Black Google - rushmoredrive.com
« on: May 01, 2009, 10:48:52 AM »

Search engine says its results more 'relevant' to black users


James Keller, THE CANADIAN PRESS
VANCOUVER, B.C. - Search for "recipes" on Google, and you'll get the standard array of websites for free cooking ideas.


But enter the same keyword at RushmoreDrive.com and the results are conspicuously different: websites dedicated to "soul food," traditional black cuisine from the southern United States, and another plainly titled "African American Food and Recipes."

Rushmore Drive bills itself as the first online search engine customized for black users, and the site's founder says the technology reveals the vast potential to tailor the Internet to virtually any ethnic or cultural group.

"Someone challenged me, 'Why do you think we need a black Google? We don't have a white Google.' And I said, 'Of course you do, it's called Google,"' says Johnny Taylor, CEO of the North Carolina-based site, which started last year.

"It's not because Google is somehow racist. It's that search engines are proxy for the majority."

Google crawls the web and ranks pages by, among other things, how often they are clicked and how many other sites link back to them.

That only reinforces the preferences of the majority of users who are likely white, says Taylor, whose site takes a different approach.

Rushmore Drive also crawls the web for results, but gives prominence to sites that staff have already identified as black-focused. It also aggregates news websites in the same way, also giving higher importance to sites like Black Entertainment Television rather than MTV.

Taylor says someone typing "Whitney" into a traditional search engine might be trying to find the Whitney Museum in New York, but Rushmore Drive assumes black users are more likely to be looking for musician Whitney Houston or civil rights leader Whitney M. Young.

"There are a number of terms that mean different things to different groups of the population," says Taylor.

"We're trying to provide a more relevant search experience, which is no different than anyone else."

Rushmore Drive then approaches advertisers with its claim to reach black consumers.

Sites targeting specific cultural groups aren't exactly new.

Web directories serving different ethnicities, women and gays and lesbians, for example, have been around for years. But Rushmore Drive appears to be the first to mix that idea with a search engine.

However, Mark Federman, a researcher at the University of Toronto, calls the site a "cute but cynical marketing venture" that naively lumps black users together.

"It's a way to create a marketing opportunity that capitalizes on people's willingness to buy from their own, to see themselves reflected in their marketing," says Federman.

He says there's no question the Internet is not blind to race, class or gender, but he doubts a search engine that relies on one company's idea of what it means to be black is much of a solution.

"How do we define 'black' and 'of interest to black'? Blackness is not monolithic, the black experience in urban Toronto is different than it is in New York or Chicago or Brazil," says Federman.

"The whole idea that any company can fathom the complexity of the social construction of ethnicity I think is far-reaching to be very polite about it."

Peter Chow-White of Simon Fraser University says a better way to tailor content to a specific group would be to give that group control.

"A top-down approach in the age of Web 2.0, I'm not sure if that's a successful plan," says Chow-White, who teaches about information technology.

"Where the content is generated by users, that seems to be a more successful business model than trying to figure out what a particular group is."

For Rushmore Drive's part, the site's CEO says the company is cautious not to make assumptions about its users, stressing that results include the broader web as well as black sites.

Initially, the search engine assumed anyone searching for "monk" might be looking for jazz musician Thelonious Monk - but quickly found out most users were actually looking for the TV show of the same name.

Taylor says the lessons learned at Rushmore Drive will soon be used by the site's parent company - which owns a range of websites including Ask.com - to expand to other groups, such as Latino users.

"There's so much information that anyone who can increase the likelihood of you finding what you're looking for is going to do it," says Taylor.

Offline JDB

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Re: The Black Google - rushmoredrive.com
« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2009, 11:14:59 AM »
Where to begin...?
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Offline cooltrini

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Re: The Black Google - rushmoredrive.com
« Reply #2 on: May 02, 2009, 02:22:56 PM »
HMmmm what next
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Offline Queen Macoomeh

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Re: The Black Google - rushmoredrive.com
« Reply #3 on: May 02, 2009, 04:04:17 PM »
 ???
Is it suggesting that I am too stupid to be able to navigate to my destination on Google or that only black sites are relevant to me?

I lorse again oui...

Rather than calling itself Rushmore - which, should I search for it, would yield Mt. Rushmore at the top - to make itself more relevant to me, they should call the site gyalahrushme...
« Last Edit: May 02, 2009, 06:11:38 PM by Queen Macoomeh »

Offline Dutty

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Re: The Black Google - rushmoredrive.com
« Reply #4 on: May 02, 2009, 04:54:35 PM »
make itself more relevant to me, they should call the site gyalahrushme...

*rimshot*

I use to have dat hairstyle
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Offline Queen Macoomeh

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Re: The Black Google - rushmoredrive.com
« Reply #5 on: May 02, 2009, 06:02:42 PM »
hehehe, Dutts, sometime aback it had dis fella in we lime who use to do a rim shot noise anytime somebody in de group bus a sweet comeback....we use to call he rims... :rotfl:

so you had a gal-ah-rush-me hairdo? Yuh went by Wisdoms to get it do or by Castries?

 

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