RushmoreDrive = Dumb idea

Not sure why the Los Angeles Times is writing about RushmoreDrive, the “black” search engine owned by Barry Diller’s IAC conglomerate, considering it originally launched back in April sometime. Maybe it was a slow news day today. In any case, it’s worth pointing out again what a bad idea this is — in my opinion at least. I’m not black, obviously, so I’m sure some people might argue that I don’t really deserve to have an opinion on the subject, but I feel compelled to write about it regardless. Do we really need racially-segregated search engines? Even after reading RushmoreDrive founder Johnny Taylor’s rationale for the service, I just don’t see what compelling purpose this serves.

Is it really that huge an inconvenience if someone searches for the word “Whitney” and gets something that is allegedly “white” like a museum of art, and what they were really searching for — Whitney Houston — is in fourth place? (Let’s ignore for the moment the possibility that they might actually search for “Whitney Houston” in the first place, or that they might even be looking for the Whitney Museum of Art) Do we really need a dedicated search engine so that black people can get results from “soul food” sites like higher up than they might be in a “white” search engine? (I am not making these examples up, by the way — these are Johnny Taylor’s examples).

Taylor says he doesn’t want to call it an “Afro-American” search engine, because he wants it to be broader than that, and to appeal to all black people. But are all black people going to want to search for Whitney Houston or soul food? I find that hard to believe. Why not have a British search engine too, so that British people can find results for soccer when they search for the term “football,” instead of getting a bunch of NFL links, or so they can get results about French fries when they use the term “chips” instead of links to information about Ruffles or Pringles?

I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks RushmoreDrive is a dumb — and possibly even offensive — idea. Corvida of SheGeeks said much the same in a post she wrote when the site was originally announced back in April, and I think she pretty much hit the nail on the head.

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About mathewi

I'm the chief digital writer at the Columbia Journalism Review in New York, and a former writer for Fortune magazine and the Globe and Mail newspaper.

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