While catching up on my magazine reading this past weekend, I saw this article in the May 19, 2008 issue of Newsweek (yeah I know, I’m really behind) titled A Search Engine Of Our Own . The seach engine is called RushmoreDrive. RushmoreDrive is geared towards black internet users but everyone can use it. Subjects relating to black interests can be found on the first few pages of RushmoreDrive whereas in Google or Yahoo the subject might not be found until you reach page 20 or beyond.
A Search Engine of Our Own
Most search sites use the behavior of the majority as a proxy to determine what you’re looking for. But what if you’re in the minority?
By N’gai Crol
How many times a day do you Google—I mean, use a search engine? The ritual remains the same: type in some keywords, hit enter and then scroll through a list of links, hoping that what you’re looking for is on the first or second page of results. Still haven’t found what you want by page three? Modify your keywords and start over. By the third or fourth consecutive attempt, you start to wonder, does this thing that I’m looking for even exist, if Google—I mean, a search engine—can’t find it? The difficulty stems from the basic way that many search engines operate, by using the behavior of the majority as a proxy to help determine what you’re most likely looking for. But what if you’re decidedly in the minority? That’s the impetus for the Charlotte, N.C.-based RushmoreDrive, a new Web site targeting black Internet users. The site includes news and employment related options, but its core feature is also its most fascinating: a search engine that tailors its results to the proclivities of the African-American community. “RushmoreDrive is the one place where the black community is actually the majority online,” says CEO Johnny Taylor.
What makes all this possible is a technique Taylor calls “geo-biasing.” Because RushmoreDrive and the search company Ask.com are both owned by Barry Diller’s holding company IAC/InterActiveCorp (Diller himself is a board member of The Washington Post Company, which owns NEWSWEEK), Taylor and his team obtained five years of Ask.com’s search info. That information was then overlaid onto a “heat map” of the United States that showed the concentration of African–Americans in various ZIP codes. With these data, the site has been able to tailor search results to its audience. For example, when users in an area with a large black population, like Atlanta, do a search for “Whitney,” they are more likely to be looking for the singer Whitney Houston or the civil-rights activist Whitney M. Young than for, say, the Whitney Museum, which might be choice No. 1 for users in an area with a large white population, like Boise, Idaho. By using this technique, the folks at RushmoreDrive were able to provide search results on page one that might end up on page 10 on Google—while still delivering a broad array of links that would be typical of a mainstream search engine.
According to the folks at Rushmore Drive:
Launched in April 2008, RushmoreDrive is a first-of-its-kind search engine for the Black community. We deliver a blend of mainstream search results plus a layer of more relevant search results influenced by the Black community. RushmoreDrive is where the Black community goes to find the best search results.
At RushmoreDrive you will also find a feature-rich job networks community where members can create a professional profile, find job opportunities, and create job networks online. RushmoreDrive’s easy-to-use job networking tool will help members unlock the power in their professional connections.
RushmoreDrive News enables the Black community to find news headlines from the entire World Wide Web, including well known Black media, blogs and countless relevant online voices, as well as recognized mainstream news sources.
RushmoreDrive is the starting point and the destination for its users to find what is most relevant to the Black community.
You can also read about RushmoreDrive at USA Today.
I’m glad to see there are more search engine choices out there. I still like using Google and Yahoo search but I will be adding RushmoreDrive to my search engine list as well.