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August 19, 2008 9:47 PM   Subscribe

Things [blank] people like. New search engine RushmoreDrive is a first step into the waters of Identity Based searching. Specifically, it weighs your demographic heavily when ordering your search results.
posted by tkolar (33 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Just to be clear, RushmoreDrive tries to serve the Black American demographic. The generic term for client demographic based ranking is Identity Based searching.
posted by tkolar at 9:51 PM on August 19, 2008


By way of example, he said that a black person searching for "whitney," for instance, probably wouldn't be looking for the Whitney Museum of Art, which comes up first on Google, or Whitney Bank, which comes up second. Instead, Taylor said, the searcher would likely be looking for Whitney Houston, who doesn't come up in Google until No. 4

My stereotypes: let me show you them.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:51 PM on August 19, 2008 [20 favorites]


Google is gathering so much information about us it won't need need to narrow us down by demographics, it will be able to guess what we're looking for based on an individualized profile.

In fact, if you have a gmail account, you should be able to see your google search history here, but I'm not sure if those are factored in to the main search yet.
posted by delmoi at 9:53 PM on August 19, 2008


Yeah seriously, expert systems fail. This system sounds like it's relying on stereotypes rather than some of that k-means loving. It assumes that race is the single defining factor in terms of data clustering, whereas more significant clusters can be, you know, localization, which an unprejudiced system would quickly find.
posted by amuseDetachment at 9:59 PM on August 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


On closer inspection, they're extrapolating race based on location. So this is just region based searching. Like how Amazon show which area bought the most books...

If they're going to run simple correlations based on Race-to-Area, then they should also find the correlation to low income areas (not a racial comment, just statistical), they should realize those areas tend to have the lowest income (as more wealthy African Americans would not be part of their stats because they're restricting by location). So they're likely making a search -- and ads -- for poor people. Fantastic business model, guys.
posted by amuseDetachment at 10:10 PM on August 19, 2008


I was really shocked to see this wasn't in the onion. It's a perfect parody of excessive "cultural sensitivity".
posted by phrontist at 10:12 PM on August 19, 2008


It makes so much sense to me that search engines are default white that I'm surprised it never occured to me before. Of course google - like dictionaries and the SATs etc. - brings up results that reference the cultural experiences of white people. Search engines, like anything else, don't exist in a vacuum where whiteness isn't normalized. So of course a search engine focused on a different cultural inputs makes sense.

That being the case, I have serious doubts that such a thing could ever actually work the way it's supposed to. Race is too difficult to quantify.
posted by lunit at 10:19 PM on August 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


The most recent entry in RushMore's comment forum:

"This is moronic, as a black person I have to say information has no color, Google is the best search engine because it consistently returns the most relevant results. I suppose it could be described as U.S. centric, I'm in London so I notice this occasionally, but then the U.S. invented the internet and the web is most developed there so this is to be expected.

This is a non story"

posted by longsleeves at 10:20 PM on August 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


We need a black Google

We already have a black Google
posted by Knappster at 10:24 PM on August 19, 2008


No, we're not talking about the white home page that's so bright it motivates some people to change its appearance to save energy

Whoops, should have read further.
posted by Knappster at 10:25 PM on August 19, 2008


In some ways Google is already doing this, by basically taking into consideration your location, previous searches, previous sites you've visited, dental records (just kidding), to determine relevant search results. I'm of the opinion that racial preferences are pretty hard to remove from class/gender/everything else, so I would think that the Google method would provide better results. Pity it does so at the expense of your privacy.
posted by zabuni at 10:40 PM on August 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


B⊙⊙BS
posted by mazola at 10:42 PM on August 19, 2008


(cue Match Game '77 'think' music)
posted by mazola at 10:43 PM on August 19, 2008


And to clarify, I'm not saying GOOGLE IS TEH EVIL or anything. It's just that determining what you want when you search requires such an invasive amount of insight of you as a person. I don't if it's possible to take a search and give relevant results without such a background of the person.
posted by zabuni at 10:43 PM on August 19, 2008


zabuni: "In some ways Google is already doing this, by basically taking into consideration your location

Done.

previous searches,

Done.

previous sites you've visited,

Done.

dental records (just kidding),

Done?

Considering the remarkable precision of their predictive targeting, it's chilling that a Google account (and by extension the various identity verification checks that feed into, say, Gmail) can be compromised relatively easily, with access to it dependent on the potentially flimsy security of secondary email accounts at third-party organizations. It was enough to make me revisit my secondary account and double-check its vulnerability to intruders.

Still love me some Google, though.
posted by Rhaomi at 11:16 PM on August 19, 2008


Also keep in mind you don't have to have a secondary email account OR a security question with your Google/GMail account.

Of course, if you forget your password, you're screwed. But that's why I keep a physically secured written copy of my passwords (after all, if they compromise that, they also have access to my hard drives, files, and all sorts of other things, so I'm screwed anyway).
posted by wildcrdj at 12:27 AM on August 20, 2008


Er, I guess you do have to have a question, but that question can just be "What is the secondary password?" and just be another password (you can write your own question).
posted by wildcrdj at 12:29 AM on August 20, 2008


delmoi: They are. They call it "personalized search". It works great. If I'm searching for Wine, it knows I'm looking for the open source win32 reimplementation, not stuff to drink.
posted by floam at 12:46 AM on August 20, 2008


As a [blank] person, I find this mildly demeaning.
posted by Drexen at 2:37 AM on August 20, 2008


Finally, a way for white, male, English-speaking geeks between the ages of 20 and 50 to find what they are looking for on the Internet!
posted by DU at 4:15 AM on August 20, 2008


By way of example, he said that a black person searching for "whitney," for instance, probably wouldn't be looking for the Whitney Museum of Art, which comes up first on Google, or Whitney Bank, which comes up second. Instead, Taylor said, the searcher would likely be looking for Whitney Houston, who doesn't come up in Google until No. 4

Who wouldn't type in Houston? That's just silly. I'd seen this engine a month or so ago but I didn't see this silly example. Why not just say a black person searching for "Loofa", for instance, probably wouldn't want Bed Bath and Beyond results - they'd want music. That's at least half way funny.

When I saw it back then I looked at the executives and the site and thought they were going to give better results for hair care and other services that can sometimes be difficult to find for black people. But their example is just literally the worst one you could give. Black folk aint lookin for no art and damn sho aint lookin to make financial decisions! They want a washed up, cracked out r&b singer.
posted by cashman at 4:18 AM on August 20, 2008 [4 favorites]


[Blank] man's burden.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:45 AM on August 20, 2008


To be fair, though, this isn't necessarily a bad idea. If I can get better search engine results by the engine considering my past search history, I can probably also get better results by considering the history of my demographic. There are more dimensions than race, of course. And one would hope that the statistics are gathered rather than imposed (i.e. using the data they discover that blacks search for Whitney Houston more than the Whitney Museum, they don't just hardcode that in).
posted by DU at 5:01 AM on August 20, 2008


White people search like this, but Black people search like this.
posted by jonp72 at 5:14 AM on August 20, 2008 [3 favorites]


[Blank] Search, [Blank] Masks.

[F@&*#%g...great, am I going to have to worry about search engines wearing homemade hoods and trying to photoengrave PCB designs into the yard while riding banner ads? "Martha! Get the soldering gun! And search for Samuel R. Delaney!"]
posted by Minus215Cee at 5:22 AM on August 20, 2008


next: Blackopedia
posted by Postroad at 6:24 AM on August 20, 2008


Finally, a way for white, male, English-speaking geeks between the ages of 20 and 50 to find what they are looking for on the Internet!

Actually this looks like a way for white suburban kids between the ages of 15 and 21 to find what they are looking for on the Internet. When they want 50 cent, it's not to explore the numismatic intricacies of the Kennedy half dollar.
posted by crapmatic at 6:37 AM on August 20, 2008


Did you mean George Clinton?
posted by Sys Rq at 6:42 AM on August 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


In some ways Google is already doing this...Pity it does so at the expense of your privacy.

Well, but at the searcher's choice. I don't stay signed in to any of my gmail accounts - I log in, check my mail, log out - and I don't have toolbars or anything. I have Firefox set to dump history, cookies, and clear the cache when I quit/restart. I know there's stuff they can track based on my IP, but I don't think it's as detailed as it would be if I stayed logged into my accounts (is it?).
posted by rtha at 7:29 AM on August 20, 2008


White people are all, "Golly gee, my optimization algorithm must not be working." Black people are all, "Can I get a K-means cluster analysis in this hizzouse, bee-yotch?"
posted by jonp72 at 7:30 AM on August 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


Wow... people take Geolocation data seriously?

If I ever use IE I get bombarded with "targeted" ads that target a random suburb of Shefield, despite the fact I'm 150 miles away. Congratulations, hot and horny single women, I'll tell the geeks at my ISP that you're in their area.

Or does this really work by assuming stupid/poor people use AOL and rich/gullible people connect via RIM or Apple...?

If you're stupid enough to use AOL in the UK you used to appear to be in either France or the States...
posted by twine42 at 9:02 AM on August 20, 2008


It gave me Fat Wreck Chords at #2 when I searched for "fat". #1 was fat chicks in party hats. What does it mean?
posted by Mister_A at 10:14 AM on August 20, 2008


Wow... people take Geolocation data seriously?

Having worked in marketing and at a company that sold software to marketers, people nearly ejaculate when they see geolocation data. They don't use it for anything, but by god, they love having it.
posted by GuyZero at 10:49 AM on August 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


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