RushmoreDrive – a search engine for black people?

By Mark O’Neill

It’s not often that I am speechless.   Whilst perusing through the New York Times Technology section, I came across a story about a search engine specifically for black people, called RushmoreDrive.   I thought it had to be a joke and I checked the calendar to make sure it still wasn’t April 1st.   Nope, it’s the 14th so I had to see if this was something serious.    It turns out it actually is.   What the….

From the New York Times article :

“Rushmore Drive analyzed search results for 3,000 of the most popular search terms in areas with large black populations and found that when people in those areas searched for recipes, they were much more likely to click on pages with soul food. Those searching for hair products, dance, cars, fraternities and sororities also ended up on vastly different Web sites than people who lived in areas with smaller black populations.

Rushmore Drive moves the Web sites preferred by black people near the top of the search results. “It’s not just prefixing ‘black’ into the search query,” Mr. Taylor said. “It’s sound technology.””

Now I want to be careful here as I don’t want to be accused of being racist (as I most definately am not and I have fought racism all my life).  But doesn’t RushmoreDrive play into the whole “whites versus blacks” thing?   If you set up this perception that we are two different peoples who have two different worlds then doesn’t that create barriers and problems, not break them down?   Yes, it’s only a search engine but come on.  Do we really need a “black people’s search engine”?

Please, I want us to have a constructive intelligent discussion about this.   No insults, no racism accusations please.   I’m genuinely interested to hear your take on this, whether you’re black or white yourself.   I would especially like to hear from someone at RushmoreDrive about your motivations for setting up the site in the first place.