Development

BlackBird: the Black focused Browser Speaks

Blackbird, a custom browser for the African-American community launched today to mixed reviews from mainstream users. We were tipped off about the browser a while ago, but this afternoon we actually had an opportunity to “talk turkey” with Blackbird co-founder and CEO 40A Inc. Ed Young.

“Blackbird was originally the brainchild of Arnold Brown, who wanted a way to tie all black content online into one location,” Young says. So Young and Brown decided that the best way to encompass all of this web content was to use the tool that all content has in common, the Web browser. Blackbird was built using Mozilla technology, which gives the browser a similar look and feel to Firefox. And by default, BlackBird imports all of your Firefox plug-ins. But what makes Blackbird different is its custom add-ons, bookmarks, relevant bookmarks, and themes designed to cater to the Black community.

Not to take away from BlackBird as a product, there are some handy features for those who surf the Web in search of Black content, like:

  • A Built-in Black video channel
  • Scrolling RSS feeds displayed in a news ticker fashion (you can turn this feature off if it gets to be a bit too much for you)
  • Pre-determined folders of bookmarks covering a range of topics including: Lifestyle, People and Networks, News and Politics, Sports and Entertainment, Business and Professional, Community and Organizations, as well as Black Colleges and Universities which contains a bookmark to every HBCU website
  • The ability to create custom add-ons like we all love to do in Firefox.
  • “Blackbird Black Search,” a Google  Custom search engine which attempts to provide Blackbird users with more relevant search results. (If you choose not to use the Blackbird search engine, Blackbird still gives you the standard option of choosing from search engines such as Google, AOL search, and even Black Search Engine Rushmore Drive.)

As far as custom add-ons are concerned, Young says, “Now this is what gives me goose bumps. We are currently working on a developer community that will give African-American developers, both young and old, the ability to create custom add-ons and themes for Blackbird.”

But what everyone wants to know, and what we thoroughly discussed with Young, is Blackbird’s business model. Blackbird is cultivating partnerships with video content providers to provide them with distribution opportunities through Blackbird’s Video Channel, as well advertising is built into the video channel offering. And, Blackbird also has plans to monetize its search results.”

Young also discussed the controversy — particularly as it regarded race — surrounding the browser’s release, originally slated for 6 PM EST today. “Black Bird is not a separate thing, it’s an interest thing,” he says.

While Young wasn’t surprised by the comments he was on sites like TechCrunch, he says that the notion that a browser for African-Americans is separatist is false.  Though he does admit there could be an adoption issue, simply because most Blacks use whichever version of IE is installed on their computer. Yet, he believes “that Blackbird is all about increasing relevancy.” 

From our perspective, the greatest difference between BlackBird and the social browser flock is that it provides users with easy access to the Black experience. What many commentors over at TC FAIL to realize is that there is a Black culture and a Black Experience, and this naturally translates online and into any other medium since we are all a part of the human race.  In 2008 it is not wrong to want to identify with your culture regardless of what that culture may be or how you choose to identify with it.

BlackBird is about as separatist as BlackVoices, BlackPlanet, RushmoreDrive, and heck even Black Web 2.0 is.  Exactly…it isn’t.

If you’re interested in the latest Blackbird news, visit their website, or follow them on Twitter.

78 Comments

Comments

Issa J. Agyei says:

There is only ONE Black Culture just different spectrums. Tribal people such as in our heritage is culture and we share more in common with other races of people who had tribes and to this day have tribes. Very similar but our culture sets trends that others just follow even if it is something bad. There are no different black cultures as they are all under one roof no matter the experiences or where you come from. You can go anywhere in the world and see black people who do things the same but have their regional twist such as jamaica, haiti, and the many different spectrums of africa but yet are similar. It is in our bloodline and it cannot be denied.

Hhe article's content rich variety which make us move for our mood after reading this article. surprise, here <a href=” http://music-ofthesun.com/ ” >wslmart.net you will find what you want! Recently, I found some wedsites which commodity is colorful of fashion. Such as xxxxxxxx that worth you to see. Believe me these websites won’t let you down.

Hhe article's content rich variety which make us move for our mood after reading this article. surprise, here <a href=” http://music-ofthesun.com/ ” >wslmart.net you will find what you want! Recently, I found some wedsites which commodity is colorful of fashion. Such as xxxxxxxx that worth you to see. Believe me these websites won’t let you down.

Hhe article's content rich variety which make us move for our mood after reading this article. surprise, here <a href=” http://music-ofthesun.com/ ” >wslmart.net you will find what you want! Recently, I found some wedsites which commodity is colorful of fashion. Such as xxxxxxxx that worth you to see. Believe me these websites won’t let you down.

There needs to be more integration of black (and other) culture among everyone. Ideas like this only strengthen segregation. The general public is often viewed as white people, so a WhiteFox would be immediately viewed as racist.

Shari says:

But if we think in broad terms, there IS a shared black experience and as a black woman I CAN have things in common with a sis from Des Moines and Atlanta no mater where I am from.

Shari says:

But if we think in broad terms, there IS a shared black experience and as a black woman I CAN have things in common with a sis from Des Moines and Atlanta no mater where I am from.

Guest says:

Markus have you ever been to a primarily black school? Have you ever actually been to a place like Compton or Oakland and really gotten involved with the people who influence what’s cool in the black culture? There is nothing there but chaos and stupidity, Markus. I grew up there and I taught at a school there. It is seriously, no exaggeration, like walking into a fucking monkey house every day. Black kids literally do not give a shit about their education, and black parents who don’t believe that are living in a fucking dreamworld. The main problem is they all seem to think something is owed to them, when in reality nobody owes them a goddamn dime. Respectable people apply for welfare and things like that only in their darkest hour, after all other resources are exhausted. But a lot of black people seem to think that the government has specifically targeted them and that they -deserve- to be paid for sitting on their asses all day.

What say you friend?

Muhammad says:

This is a patch only to compensate for racism or other daily challenges to the minority. There needs to be more integration of black (and other) culture among everyone. Ideas like this only strengthen segregation. The general public is often viewed as white people, so a WhiteFox would be immediately viewed as racist. I lived in a town of 500,000, 90% Hispanic. The general public is not white. What about an AsianFox? We need to stop fueling segregation… work on the source of the problem by, for instance, asking Google to allow customization of searches for any ethnicity, age, and gender.

originaldna says:

This for James, it’s not a THEORY Africans are the mother and father of all humans, as for the China thing.
Their DNA is the closest to Africans .

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/183392.stm

95% of the human DNA dwells in Africa.

Cpl Carter USMC says:

@Big Al

“First off who said it was for blacks only? CPL Carter as soon as I read your first sentence I knew you were going to be way out in left field!!!!”

Download Blackbird

* CONNECT to African American Internet News, TV, Sports, websites, and all that’s most popular in your community
* EMPOWER your Internet to find what you want when you want it
* ENTERTAIN yourself with entertainment content from the African American community
-taken directly from http://blackbirdhome.com/

Excuse me Big Al, here is something else from blackbirdhome.com-

After more than six months of development, 40A, Inc. has completed the development of the Blackbird internet browser, a software application designed for the African American community by the African American community. The Company has also today announced a grassroots marketing program to promote the Blackbird Browser — making available banners and buttons for use on websites to promote downloads of the Blackbird Browser. The Blackbird download graphics can be obtained from the Company’s website under the tab, “Spread the Word.”

With statements like these, I can see how Caucasians, Asians, Native Americans and Hispanics are encouraged to download and use this browser. If you would like I am sure I can find more statements like the following on the home page:

BlackBird is the web browser for the AFRICAN-AMERICAN community.

And in response to your question, yes I have downloaded, installed and used the browser. And guess what, it uses Google Search. I tried the “Black Search” and yes I found news reports from BlackPressUSA and blackvoices.com and blackamericaweb.com. Guess what else, those same stories can be found on any other news site.

And to your disdain at the inclusion of my race, I was merely trying to show that even though I am white and from the South, most of my closest friends are not. My personal opinion of the BlackBird web browser, that is clearly targeted at African Americans(so says the very homepage where said browser may be downloaded), is no different than FireFox or IE. It still uses a Google Search. When someone is on FireFox there is no option for “White Search” and I feel there should not be. You clearly do not wish to discuss this topic in a rational and reasonable manner so it is here that I say good day.

Big Al says:

Thank you tiffany, that’s one of the best comments on here. You gave hard facts about it’s features and it’s usefullness,it’s pros and cons. Not just talking about it randomly. Kudos!!!

tiffany says:

@lynne, a browser is a tool.how much sense does an african-american hammer or an african american television set make? i think that’s why the idea of a black browser rankles so many. a portal is a community centered on interest in a particular topic or way of life. a browser is … that piece of software i use to get on the internet.

but i’ll go at your point from a different direction. n00bs aren’t quite the audience for this browser either. after all, it requires the user to (1) fire up a browser, (2) go to blackbirdhome.com, (3) download the software, and (4) install it. if you know how to do steps 1-4, you probably know how to use google or yahoo or rushmoredrive.com to find what you want. and if you don’t, wouldn’t it be just as easy to learn how to use Firefox or Internet Explorer?

let’s be real: the browser UI itself is not n00b-friendly. it’s a hot a** mess. there’s poor contrast. there’s ugly iconography and typography. it’s cluttered. it’s inconsistent. and it behaves like shady software by featuring ads, by looking bad, by not being clear about its licensing, and by making itself the user’s default browser without asking. it fails all the way around.

Big Al says:

I’ve been gone for a minute,I come back and I’m still amazed at the OVERBLOWN thought process!! Look,I get most of the opinions ,but what are we really talking about here? Belch speak?( Doesn’t the name say it all?)WTF!!?! are you talkin about man! And puertoricanwhitey,see what happens when you began to think? Strained race relations is all you could come up with? What about the fact that Blackbird choose one of the MOST downloadable open-source web browsers ever to piggyback off of,and the best some of ya’ll can come up with is “a blacks only web browser”. First off who said it was for blacks only? CPL Carter as soon as I read your first sentence I knew you were going to be way out in left field!!!! Who wanted to know that you were white? TMI homie. Has anybody even downloaded Blackbird yet? Or are we going to criticize from afar? Tgrundy is one of the few that has even used it. I guess I’ll be looking at tgrundy’s outlook on Blackbird, and give one myself in a few days.

Derrick says:

@rasheen & everybody else…

Your comment about BlackBird filtering content from the perspective of Blackness, as well as, your comment on trust is…just bad.

First you don’t know every person that writes all of the information or content you consume on a daily basis. Or the people that directly or indirectly impact your personal well-being. Its impossible. Second, trust is implied in alomost everything you do. You trust banks, your boss, food producers, medicine makers, your doctor, traffic light builders. You trust a whole bunch of people that can do harm to you, but a bunch of guys that are TRYING to enrich your internet experience, you don’t know and don’t trust.

People we have to do better by each other. If not, 8 years will pass and nothing will have CHANGED.

MINI RANT: By the way, I’m going to join my homeboy. I don’t want to be Black anymore. If your actions and thoughts posted on this blog help to define Black Thought, Black Unity, & Black Loyalty…you all can have it. You all depress me.

James says:

iliveonce,

The first people were not “in fact” from Africa. The “Out of Africa” THEORY is just that – a theory. Also, not the best of theories. For example, have you ever heard of the “Peking Man”? I’ll give you a hint. . . it’s as old as African fossils, but it was found in CHINA.

Do not be fooled by popular opinion. The popular opinion is that the THEORY of Evolution is probably right, and that people probably came from Africa. Nothing that science has found has proven these theories correct. They are, in fact, just THEORIES.

Please, do not tell the world something is “A FACT” when it actually nothing more than a theory based largely on circumstantial evidence.

Dammit Man says:

Clarification: “Comments by A N*gg*r” refers to a comment that seems to have been deleted by management by a user identifying themselves as “A N*gg*r”. It was derogatory and mocking of people of color.

Dammit Man says:

Sometimes one need only look as far as the opposition to clarify what one’s position is (or maybe what it should be) in regards to a certain topic.

Exhibit A… the above comments by “A nigger”

Exhibit B… the comments expressed here http://www.crunchbase.com/company/40a-inc

It sure clarified my position in a hurry.

iliveonce says:

This post will be addressed towards all the negative criticizers black and white.

I’ll get to point!! First, true equality is when all people have equivalent access to economical and technological resources and thus are empowered.
White people (addressed to the mixed individual and others) are the majority
and all other browser and multimedia web technology plus most businesses cater to the majority thus they’re desires and needs are best assessed and met because there are more profits to be made. But because they are more PROFITS TO BE MADE simply doesn’t warrant the indifferent approach to so called minority desires. They are alot of differences as well as similarities, hence the birth of BLACKBIRD. I’m ashamed of the black people who are criticizing BLACKBIRD. i understand the ignorance of some black people ( it comes from fear and possessing an inferiority complex. A lot of Black people expect less and have a low standard because they feel like they are beneath there white counterparts. THEY ARE FOOLISH AND WEAK MINDED. IF MARTIN LUTHER KING, MALCOLM X, ADAM CLAYTON POWELL AND MANY OTHERS FOLLOWED AND INFERIORITY COMPLEX STANDARD…THESE house negros and fearful, spineless, cowards would not even be able to have access to a compuTer to blog they’re ungrateful comments. HOW MANY BLACK PEOPLE OWN DISTRUBUTION AND FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS, INTERNET COMPANIES AND TECHNOLOGIES? NOT MANY. THESE UNCLE TOMS ARE THE SAME ONE’S THAT SAID AT FIRST BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA WOULD NEVER BE ELECTED AS PRESIDENT. AS SOON AS WHITE PEOPLE BEGAN TO GRAVITATE TO BARACK THEY SWITCHED FROM HILLARY AND OTHERS AND SAID BARACK MAY WIN. WHILE I COMMEND THEM FOR GETTING ON THE RIGHT TRACK..I SCOLD THEM FOR ALWAYS SEEKING APPROVAL OF WHITE PEOPLE BEFORE THEY DO ANY THING!!
FINAL NOTE THE FIRST PEOPLE WERE FOUND IN AFRICA. (IT”S A FACT) WHERE WOULD EVERYONE ELSE COME FROM OH!! BARACK MOTHER IS WHITE BUT HE KNOWS HE IS BLACK!

tgrundy says:

@Cpl Carter USMC: Can’t tell you how much I appreciate the reasonable, intelligent discussion we’ve engaged in on this topic. That is all I really want. As you have pointed out, there has been far too much stupidity and foolishness perpetuated all this week about this software.

To be honest, as a computer professional and Internet veteran of almost 20 years, I don’t think that I am the ideal user that this application is (or should be) targeted at. That fact may be true of most others commenting in this forum. Additionally, from using it this past week (Hmmmm, I wonder how many other folks who have had so much to say about this thing have actually taken the time to install it and use it?) I can factually say that it has a lot of room for improvement if it hopes to be a viable product in the marketplace. Actually, from watching the interview that the developer Ed Young did with Brian Lehrer earlier this week it sounds like he did not intend for the product to be released to the general public at this time.

Cpl Carter USMC says:

@tgrundy

See the issue here is that we are not a “color-blind” society/world. And truthfully, as I’ve gotten older (or “more experienced” as I like to think of it *smile*), I don’t think that we should be. I WANT to see the color of the different people I meet. I don’t want to be blind to the differences of the various ethnic groups in the world. I want to see the differences, learn from the differences, be further educated by the differences that the various cultures have in this world. What I DON’T WANT though is to be discriminated against, put down, held back, shoved aside, used or abused because my color/culture is different from yours or someone else’s.

I agree and disagree. I agree that every ethnicity has something to offer society as a whole. Many of my Hispanic- and African American brothers have shown me many things that I have never noticed and that I greatly appreciate. You are 100% right in that the cultural differences of the many races that make up this great nation should never be ignored. I do however disagree that this browser does not hurt the trials of the men and women who have gone before. This is just the beginning. I’m not bagging on BET. I’m not saying that whites need their own browser. But others are. It has already been said in this post and many others centered around this controversial topic, “When do the whites get their own browser?” This is a foolish statement, as it is thoughts such as these that can and most definitely will spur on more and more heated arguments in the schools and communities of our country. The last thing we need is a reason for more hate. There is enough of it in our society as it is. I respect your opinion tgrundy, and the fact that you have discussed this topic with me rationally and reasonably. I am not a highly educated man. I am not a scholar nor do I have a degree from ANY university. I have not seen as many years as many people and I am willing to learn from them. I have seen the racist side of life(unfortunately). But I have also seen multitudes of men and women whose only similarity is that they were born, or now live, under the same set of stars and bloody stripes that makes us free. It is here that we must regrettably agree to disagree.

Will Burrus says:

A browser is a tool, not a type of content. This is why this idea back fired in his face so quickly. It was very short-sighted on his part, and he should’ve though it through before he put it out there.

Apparently, he didn’t catch the buzz about the Motrin Moms campaign. The web is fickle.

I talk more about this on my blog

BelchSpeak says:

Wow, this browser will be the digital equivalent of the Jim Crow laws. You know 40a (I get it! 40 acres and a mule! Reparations for all!) has a great line of business waiting for them in the non-virtual world too. I imagine a line of “blacks only” drinking fountains would do nicely wherever blacks congregate- like urban centers, hip hop clubs, etc. And if that takes off, maybe a line of plumbing products so blacks can have their very own bathrooms too. And why stop there? Seperate dining facilities, schools, buses and places of employement, perhaps in the agricultural industry would be a great idea.

Obama Monkey says:

They have even added a page for the Original Obama Monkey at http://www.SockPoliticians.com on the browser.

tgrundy says:

@James: So, Markus, when’s the Whites-Web Browser due to be released? I don’t want to have to see all of your black websites when I am trying to find my white websites. How can I filter your black culture out of my life?

{sigh} OK. Just let me point out that your comment here is very typical of the many, many types of comments I read over on TechCrunch that has fueled a lot of the conversations about Blackbird.

Since you are “going there”… to directly answer your question though (since you don’t seem to know) the “Whites” web browsers already exist. They are called Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera, Safari, etc., etc. The “caucasian mindset” as far as day-to-day existence in this country is concerned *is* the “default configuration setting” so to speak. And in far too many ways the cultures of non-caucasian people are already filtered out of your life/lifestyle.

tgrundy says:

@Cpl Carter USMC: First of all (and I mean this seriously and sincerely) “Thank you” for your service to our country, we all owe a debt of gratitude and appreciation to the men and women who serve in our armed services.

Now on to my disagreement with your statement: This African American web browser completely undoes decades of hard work by men both black and white. It took two assassinations on the books, and countless murders for all men to be treated equally. Now this blacks only web browser comes along and reverses the deeds of so many American heroes.

This is a product we are talking about here. An application. A piece of software. It is not reversing anything. It is not trying to undermine the Constitution of the United Sates of America. It is not going to cause the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to be repealed. It won’t cause the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision to be reversed. It won’t change the outcome of the 2008 presidential election here in the US. It is just a software program, a web browser. One that is pre-configured with content that the developers feel would be of interest to the African American community. It does not LOCK YOU IN nor LOCK YOU OUT of searching for or surfing to any of the content that can be found on the Internet. Also, and I mention this because I have seen so many folks making this erroneous statement, it is not for BLACKS ONLY. It can be downloaded, installed and used by anybody regardless of their race, creed, culture, religious beliefs, sexual preferences or whatever. AAMOF, I’m sure that the developers would be very happy if all people AA and non-AA downloaded and used it. *smile*

Oh and to answer your question, “Yes!” the color of your skin does matter. Just as the melanin-rich color of my skin matters. See the issue here is that we are not a “color-blind” society/world. And truthfully, as I’ve gotten older (or “more experienced” as I like to think of it *smile*), I don’t think that we should be. I WANT to see the color of the different people I meet. I don’t want to be blind to the differences of the various ethnic groups in the world. I want to see the differences, learn from the differences, be further educated by the differences that the various cultures have in this world. What I DON’T WANT though is to be discriminated against, put down, held back, shoved aside, used or abused because my color/culture is different from yours or someone else’s.

James says:

“In 2008 it is not wrong to want to identify with your culture regardless of what that culture may be or how you choose to identify with it.”

So, Markus, when’s the Whites-Web Browser due to be released? I don’t want to have to see all of your black websites when I am trying to find my white websites. How can I filter your black culture out of my life?

I never said anything before because I figured I’d be labelled a racist for it. Apparently, now that it’s 2008, it’s okay to be “racist” (read as: identify with my own culture). I don’t want to see any double-standards here, so when’s my White-Browser coming out?

One other question: Does this new browser display in actual English, or does it use “Eubonics” (read as: English, but with no comprehension of the rules of grammar)?

Puertoricanwhitey says:

Wow. At first first glance I thought this was pretty cool. Then I think about it and realize it will only further strain race relations and tool of “proof” that races are not equal. Statistics will eventually be gathered and the multiple websites will eventually be used to strengthen steriotypical views.

And last I thought GREAT here comes another door opened for the NAACP, al sharpton, and other demagogues to bring forth costly and frivolous law suits on institutions of education, libraries, work places and businesses for not offering the black content.

Dumb

InFlight says:

PR stunt…. good job. PR stunt to get advertising/marketing funds… ok job.

But if this is truly your concept of a product, if this is truly your idea of a “good” concept for the greater good of people.. then your truly incapable of thought. For your company to believe that Blacks, rather African Americans “need” a browser that “caters” to their needs is a mockery to what it means to be an American. This country is a “melting pot”, if your not familiar with that term, use the “World Wide Web”.. you know; that little engine you are trying to separate from and search for it. I am an African American and I will never download your browser, nor will I ever purchase, download, or stream any content you provide. You are perpetuating an ideal many have tried to correct; the ideal that blacks are different and we (blacks) need “Special” attention. This is a false ideal. I respect the right you have to advertise your product, but I reserve the right never to use it.

int19h says:

> There seems to be a subliminal conditioning going on here whispering in everyone’s ear, very quietly… “Black is bad, Black is bad”

No, there isn’t. What people are saying (not whispering) is that self-centering around one’s Black identity is just as bad as self-centering around any other ethnic identity – it’s the kind of thinking that leads to racism.

Of course, the self-proclaimed “Black community” (which, gladly, doesn’t even represent the majority of the real one) is always seeking for anything that can be perceived as targeting them on racist grounds. Nothing new here.

Cpl Carter USMC says:

To all reading, I am a white American, born and raised in the South. I live my life standing up for this country beside men and women of all races, creeds, religions and genders. I have been called racist by the people who do not know me. I want everyone to know this. This African American web browser completely undoes decades of hard work by men both black and white. It took two assassinations on the books, and countless murders for all men to be treated equally. Now this blacks only web browser comes along and reverses the deeds of so many American heroes. I’m a white American,but does it really matter the color of my skin? I’m still an AMERICAN!!

Congratulations to the founders of Black Bird. We need you, the market needs you and the net will be more effectively used by all of us because of you. A search engine that targets our interests and niche is long overdue.

It is all about being able to find and benefit from information that can support our goals of economic, social, and political empowerment and interaction. One shoe does not fit all. Every ethnic group deserves a voice and a mike and yes a search engine that increases their access to information. The more choice the better.

Peace, Power, & Blessings

tgrundy says:

@Adrian: But what about folks just getting online recently and/or for the first time who don’t have the ability to find a new browser or don’t even know what a browser really is or are having difficulty finding the information they’re interested looking for on the topics they’re interested in?

I’ll go out on a limb and say that NONE OF US here, currently commenting on this product, are the ideal “target market” for this application. However, I am quite sure that there is a large population of folks new or relatively new to technology in general and to the Internet in particular that might find a product like this quite useful.

Adrian says:

Why bother? is my overall feeling.

I mean, the people are already using a browser in order to find blackbird in the first place. And if people have gone that far, they may a well use the original mozilla powered browser (firefox) that isn’t designed to narrow information down to “one” community.

And judging by most of the comments on this article is pretty wide community to cover. I mean, anyone and everyone could be into anything and everything.

Also, if you have the ability to find a new broswer or even know what a broswer is then I’m pretty sure you can already find the information you’re interested looking for on the topics you’re interested in.

I don’t know, it just seems a little narrowminded to me.
Sure this would be better suited as a website/community portal than an application.

I for one just want to commend these brothers on attempting to provide something useful for the average black user… We also must realize everything starts from nothing, as who knows what shall become of this browser in the coming years…

tgrundy says:

@Parris: New Theme install works just like it does under FF 3.x.

HOWEVER, upon further investigation…

Blackbird looks like it is having some problems with .JAR files. The FF theme I successfully installed had a .XPI file extension, BB seems to process those types of files with no problem. Another theme I tried to install (just before I posted this) had a .JAR file extension. BB did not process that file and install the theme, AAMOF the browser locked up on me all 3 times I tried to get it to open the .JAR file.

So I take this to mean that Ed & company have some additional work to do shoring up BB’s Java support. Well, we must all remember, it *is* BETA software after all.

Parris says:

@tgrundy, I’ve tried to download skins from Mozilla add-on site, it doesn’t seem to be working for me, or is the process to install the skin the same as in 3.0, or a backtrack to 2.0?

tgrundy says:

@Parris: you *can* change the skin of Blackbird, after all it is still the Mozilla/Firefox code underneath. I just went to the Firefox Add-ons site (https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/) downloaded a new theme and installed it. Once again (as many folks are overlooking) Blackbird DOES NOT *lock you in* to anything nor *lock you out* of anything. It is JUST A BROWSER with a customized skin and some pre-configured features to make it easier to locate content that the developers feel would be of interest to the AA community.

@Hilo: “This is a racist web browser that will end up making it harder for blacks to get real equality.” I cannot DISAGREE MORE with this ridiculous (IMHO) statement you have made. Software is not racist. Just like a gun (or a hammer for that matter), it all depends on what the PERSON USING IT does with it. Also, people of color in this country WILL gain equality and success in this world. PERIOD. A piece of browser software will have no effect on THAT whatsoever.

@John Wilson: “Thank you”. I always like to thank people that make reasonable, intelligent commentary on this issue.

Parris says:

Let me just say, I find this browser very offensive, just assuming black people are behind with technology really is demeaning. Then going as far as providing content for us. I believe this is a marketing scheme to target the black audience with nonsensical Search results, and Bebos, Myspaces, etc.

With that said, I’ve been having a lot of difficulty with browsers lately(as others have), FF 3.0 crashes often, Chrome is in beta, IE not even going to bother, Safari does not work with sites I go to, and Opera freezes, so I have downloaded this browser, and I am currently using it.

The dark skin hurts my eyes and annoys me, the heaviness of the tool bars, even with the book marks and the services removed causes me to hunch or lower my head to read content within the browser. The only benefit this browser has is it’s speed, speed and the fact that it’s working. If only I cold change the skin, add afew FF add-ons, and remove that service bar, it would be perfect.

Also I don’t my perpetuating the stereotypes….Black Bird is as fast as Usain Bolt

John Wilson says:

I see both sides of this argument fairly clearly. A “black” browser does not mean it is exclusive by any means. Its purpose, which I feel both Blackbird and others here have stated, is inclusive not exclusive. It merely seeks to showcase black culture with more depth than typically found in mainstream media or through the use of other browsers. During my experience with it, I actually did run into a few interesting things that though are on other browsers (it’s still the internet) would have taken more effort to find. I don’t see myself transferring over, though. I hope at some point that we can start looking at this debate from a cultural perspective as opposed to a purely racial one. Race does play a role, but finer distinctions must be made to do the argument justice.

Hilo says:

This is a racist web browser that will end up making it harder for blacks to get real equality.

I’m sick of all this political correctness and “Oh they aren’t white, let them do what they want.” While “Oh they are white, we’ll sue them if they try to do what we are letting the other races do.” Total bullshit.

If someone were to make a Whitebird version of this, they would getsued for racism almost immediately.

NO ID says:

Whew, found my way over here from Techcrunch and thank God. The web is a hotbed for serious racists and yet folks wonder “why” “we” might need a “black” browser. I think the comments over there are the reason why. We need a break from people who want black folks to just join “the mainstream” and shove off all desire of having any kind of black interests or culture. “Black” clubs, hair salons, radio stations et al, exist because people felt their needs weren’t being met by the larger society.

While I work on the web, I’m far from a techhead. The only reason I give a damn about a browser is to get on the Internet. Maybe I’m not using the full potential of browsers, but RSS feeds and the like were simply too time-consuming. As someone who works in black media, I need to keep up with the news in “our” community more than in any other and the news ticker on this broswer is amazingly helpful in that. The bookmarks, especially links to black colleges, etc., can just supplement the ones I have in other browsers. What is the big damn deal?

True diversity in workplaces and especially in the media is a joke. I just visited a company that gets accolades for diversity and I was one of three black people I saw there. So please – until there is true diversity of color, thought and opinion in what we consider the “mainstream,” there will be offerings of all kinds to the black marketplace. Even porn is segregated. If black people felt their needs were being met by the mainstream we’d have no need for anything specific to our community.

I’m black and proud and I think it’s disgusting that we are one of the only ethnic groups asked to shed our ethnicity and culture for acceptance. Every other group from Jewish Americans to Asian Americans to Italian Americans is encouraged to embrace their culture and uniqueness. Why can’t we do the same??

Kamau says:

The Black skin is not a badge of shame, but rather a glorious symbol of national greatness. – Marcus Garvey

While I LOVE the idea of a Black browser I hate its implementation. As one blog said this project is so 1990ish. Us in technology have to do better! While minimalist, lightweight apps are the growing trend what do we do make a bloated, ugly browser with way too much going on. As one poster said the brothers should of made a Black plugin for firefox rather than folk Firefox and mess it up. I don’t think I’ve seen a black (in color) browser ever! Why would you make a browser black? All that different stuff going on at the top just looks like IE6 infected with spam and adware. Overall these people didn’t put anything thought in design or trending and their browser reflects that. I wish Black folks stop building Black products that sucks and then except them to sale just because they are Black. Build a quality product first then Black folks will support you. Let’s have some pride!

We must reinforce argument with results. – Booker T. Washington

Now if you are the creators of this project and you are reading my comment about it shoot me an email or two and I’ll take my time with suggestions to help this project because I know if you are not part of the solution than you are part of the problem. kamaubandele [at] yahoo.com

funkdigital says:

I can’t say that I’d ever use something like this browser, but I certainly see how it’s uses are viable.

I’m surprised by the backlash to this idea from the comments I read on TechCrunch. You’ll find those here. http://tinyurl.com/6aeyvp

mezu says:

This is just a Firefox fork. Lets not beat around the bush here. I am shocked that this is being hailed as some significant milestone.

Why not just author plugins for Firefox instead. This whole black this and ‘black is beautiful’, ‘I love black people’ is just so 70’s IMO.

Why should black people always seem to remind themselves of who they are. Are people really that insecure..lack of self esteem ?

Lets just have awesome tech and leave race out of it 🙂

tgrundy says:

Lynne & Big Al: “Thank you” for your comments, they mirror my thoughts on this issue completely. It has been fascinating to watch the controversy over Blackbird develop during the past 24 hours. And as Big Al said most of the commentary/criticism had nothing to do with the technical merits of the software.

It is NOT a filter that seeks to lock you in or exclusively define what is “black” on the ‘Net. It’s a customized browser that is preloaded with content and other features that the developers feel would be of interest to the AA community. Now did they do a good job selecting this preloaded content and/or do the included features work to give the user a good browsing experience? Those are questions I hope to get answers to about this software after the “OH MY GOD, IT’S A BROWSER FOR BLACK PEOPLE!” hysteria dies down. Also, I wonder how many of the people complaining and putting this product down all over the web today have actually taken the time to install it (Yes, I have since you asked) and test drive it before jumping in with their commentary? I wish the developers much luck and success with this venture.

However, IMHO, there is a bigger issue going on here that concerns me. Why is it when something is created, developed or targeted towards the African-American/Black community there ALWAYS seems to be an initial uproar of NEGATIVITY about it. And this uproar comes from both the non-AA and the AA side of the aisle. This is the undercurrent about this whole Blackbird release that I’ve been noticing today. There seems to be a subliminal conditioning going on here whispering in everyone’s ear, very quietly… “Black is bad, Black is bad”. I think many folks here (and on a lot of other websites/communities too) need to check out “The Black Paper” by Veronica Conway. It may give you some insight into all of this.

More Black says:

@lynne – this only works if the browser is a quality browser. Unfortunately Blackbird is not.

Full review at: http://www.moretoblack.com/read/?v=348

vonn b says:

Well if they are guilty of anything, its not hiring one of us on this blog as a marketing and PR consultant! The positioning of an “African American browser” was all wrong and has distracted the conversation from the functionality. They should have used the overly used word “urban” and positioned it as a browser for those who are interested in discovering media and content from an AA perspective. I think the blow back and second guessing would have been a lot less. Again, we(colored folk) are often creators of content, early adopters, and consumers, but rarely creators and distributors of technology. We see it across the board in music, film, and television and all these mediums are moving toward online and mobile. We complain about lack of distribution, and the web is the great equalizer when it comes to distribution. We are the kings of creating on no budget. I look at BB as a tool to discover content that is culturally relevant. It may take a while for them to find their niche, but I applaud the effort.

BTW
What happened to Urban Entertainment the guys that created Undercover Brother? They would be so paid right now with aggregating content.

Dede says:

I’m late to the party, but I agree with Lynne. I think that it’s pretty neat to have a browser! I try not to look into things to deep and just be appreciative that someone saw a void or opportunity to at least speak to even a small percentage of us. We have a tendency to always jump and comment on anything targeted or made for us. But, if they didn’t do it would that be an argument/disapproval too? (yup..)

I don’t know, but I wish them all the best and I think it would spread and has a staying power if we support and give them feedback like what is spoken in this post and if Blackbird reaches out to the demo and survey users frequently.

Also, as a Mac user, a Mac browser is needed as soon as you can.

And –let’s remember, this is a new product, we have the chance to help them mold themselves and offer our opinions to help them be better browser for Black people. Let’s just remember that and try to be supportive…

Also, I just saw this…thanks Blackbird for putting Clutch Magazine (the things you learn about on Black Web 2.0!!) in your bookmarks…like wow! This young black sister is very honored and humbled and will do what I can to support and spread the word.

Big Al says:

Lynne d, you’re right about not discussing the technological side of BlackBird. I use Firefox3 and when I go to a site that doesn’t support FF3 I switch over to IE7.I haven’t tried Google Chrome yet,but that’ll change.Speaking about Google Chrome did it spark the same type of energetic conversations as BlackBird?

@Big Al, that’s what I was trying to say in far too many words. You’re right, it’s a browser, and it also is black media. We either use it or we don’t. Just like some people use RSS and some use bookmarks.

But I definitely get all the arguments — about the objectives, technology, whatever. No doubt. But it is interesting that we can’t just make this a discussion about the technology. It is interesting that because it purports to be the African-American Web browser it’s being judged more on its business model — cuz that is what it is isn’t it? It’s targeting a particular niche demographic. Whatever that niche is.

Big Al says:

The reason we have BlackBird,is the same reason we have Essence,Ebony/Jet,BlackEnterprise etc.It FOCUSES on issues for African Americans.That doesn’t mean that’s the only web portal we should use or that it has to be the only web portal either. It just gives web users another option that’s all. I say “hats off” to these young entrepreneurs. And to those “deep thinkers” you’re thinking way to hard on this one, i t’s only a web broswer.

The audience commenting here is probably not the audience that this product is intended for. Why? You already use the Web. You already know how to find the content you want to find. This product, to me, is like the BlackVoices or (insert other Af-Am portal here) of browsers. It’s a little bit flock with some predetermined bookmarks thrown in (you can always add your own). But as people have already said here, some people learn the Web through services like AOL. Hell yeah, the Web should be open and free. But picture yourself as 8 or even 80, and no one else in your home who really knows the Web or how to navigate it — do you think you’d want a little aid?

I’m just asking the questions. And I hear loads of my people’s argument about it being separatist — I felt the same way too about the hashtag #blck — but I’m also seeing the other side of it. I’m trying to see what a newbie to the Internet sees. Or even someone who is only interested in what they believe to be the “black perspective.”

And on the black experience, black content side of things — Interactive One and Radio One recently conducted a BlackAmericaStudy, that digs deeply into the notion that, no, Blackness is not monolithic. But it also reveals that “most” black people don’t trust mainstream media sources. [Not that I believe all studies.]

I see people getting really passionate about this browser on so many fronts today, but when a new content site for African-Americans launches, does it raise the same ire? Just really curious what makes the aspect of a browser, different than a portal (from people’s perspective)? And what if BlackBird had only launched the video stuff in an app like Joost once was? Would that still have had the same affect? (And consider this, there’s Black Entertainment TV, BlackPlanet, BlackVoices, etc. — is the feeling that BlackBird is sort of representative of the times when these properties were hot? Actually they’re still hot, if you’ve ever looked at the data that is. And there’s a reason, there’s an entire groups of people, who may not be like most of the commentors here that support these products.)

I’m not arguing for one vs the other, so let’s be clear, but I’m just asking deeper questions to get a better understanding about why this product sparked so much debate today. I saw people blog who hadn’t blog in years even weigh in.

I think there are products available for different types of people. If what the consensus is that rang through today bears any weight — does that mean that BB doesn’t have a future? Is that what we all think?

Along with what everyone else has said, I too would like to know what is the black community/culture? What if you are of mixed nationality (one of which not being “black”) but the other is “black”. Can I still use it? Is it still for me? Who are these people to think that they know the “black culture” so much that they can speak for the whole “black community” with this browser?

Angela says:

@anthony if you link back to this post it will display as a trackback.

2 Questions. I agree with Vonn B., Why does this feel like a year 1999 move and where is the trackback section? This app is creating some serious buzz http://myphillynetwork.com/content/blackbird-browser-it-you

rahsheen says:

@DryerBuzz I know you said you’re done, so you probably won’t see this 🙂

…but I don’t think most of the people I talk to on a daily basis have a problem installing a new browser. I also don’t think they have much of a problem finding information that’s valuable to them, whether it be regarding their race or not. That being said, I don’t think this browser is for “us”.

I don’t read CNN and I don’t even have an MSN account. I find things on my own. If that doesn’t work, I find things through people who know. I don’t know these Blackbird people, so why should I trust them as an information filter? Also, why should I have to install software to see information that’s already available with my current tools?

It’s a good idea implemented poorly. That is my opinion. The fact that the browser links to a bunch of black “stuff” doesn’t change anything.

vonn b says:

I did not even bother to read the comments on TC. I already knew how it was going to go down. I do wish these guys good luck. God knows its hard being colored and in the tech related business. I think all the positive suggestions are good. We do need to get out of the “black box” and develop a product for the general market. It is easier to stay in a comfort zone, but a lot of times we are culturally neglected and blackbird can fill that need. Like I said, I would suggest it to my parents who are not going to go hunting for culturally relevant content. Blackbird can serve it right to them in a browser. GREAT!

btw
I miss urbanexpose.com! I had a site then and appreciated the holes they poked in my site and my plans. It made me better ultimately.

tiffany says:

+10 Anil.

@DryerBuzz my interest is Black too, but my idea of what’s black — or rather, what’s relevant to black people, and me in particular, isn’t necessarily yours.

I have a problem with any kind of product that claims to be for “African Americans” or “Women.” Nine times out of 10, they’re not for my particular brand of blackness, or my particular brand of womanhood.

And, to steal a point from Cecily, how does teaching people to install a browser so that they can find content actually help them navigate and evaluate the internet as it works today?

Anil Dash says:

I dunno about the browser, though I wish its creators good luck. But I thought the tone, tenor and vitriol of the comments on (for example) TechCrunch was disgusting. Maybe I’m too optimistic, but I had thought maybe we wouldn’t see that same, old tired-ass “where’s the White Entertainment Television?” bullshit argument raise its ugly head again. I didn’t see them decrying Facebook for actually being exclusive, having formed as an enclave for Ivy Leaguers.

@tgrundy says:

BlackWeb 2.0 interviews Ed Young, CEO of Blackbird (the AA browser released today): http://tinyurl.com/5ctcdg #blck #blackbird

DryerBuzz says:

@rahsheen,

When you log on to MSN and there are already some headlines there (and they don’t look like you at all), have they then decided what you might want to read?

When the ticker goes across the bottom of CNN, have they then decided what you might be interested in reading? Your information is filtered bro, 24/7, all day long. Blackbird is not locking you in, at least it will show you more of you than anything.

Then you went there on installing it..omg come on now. We tweet each other all week long on this and that to install and never is there a debate.

Everybody needs to slow your scroll and step back. This is conditioning at its best. I can’t believe this. I’m done.

DryerBuzz says:

“Young also discussed the controversy — particularly as it regarded race — surrounding the browser’s release, originally slated for 6 PM EST today. “Black Bird is not a separate thing, it’s an interest thing,” he says.”

The above statement says it all. I’m tired of this where we question everything that is us, about us, deemed us, unique to us. “Black” is my interest and I ain’t ashamed to say it.

@BlackWeb20 says:

@TheJennTaFur @mediabistro Ha yes we saw it! We have the exclusive interview from Ed Young Blackbird’s CEO: http://tinyurl.com/5ctcdg

rahsheen says:

This browser makes the creators of Blackbird the authority on what I should look at as a black person. Who is Blackbird and why should I trust them to filter my information? And, it IS filtered because there are pre-selected media sources. If I don’t know any better, I probably wouldn’t have a clue how to get outside of the sandbox.

I think I understand the intent behind it, but I don’t think this browser is a good idea. Creating a piece of software that I have to install just so I can get at so-called black information doesn’t make sense to me. It would be simpler and more accessible to a larger audience to just create a web application or portal site to bring together the information.

I guess we will see how it turns out, but I can’t try it because this is a Linux box and my other computer is a Mac. I would just like to know at least one feature of this browser that can’t be accomplished otherwise.

BlackBird: the Black focused Browser Speaks | Black Web 2.0: Blackbird , a custom browser for the Afri.. http://tinyurl.com/5ctcdg

vonn b says:

Harsh comments today! First I can’t enjoy the experience because I am on a mac. This would have been a great idea in 1999 / 2000, but it still could get some traction with older AA users who are new to social media. I would not characterize it as an AOL gatekeeper product, but I do think there is merit in providing a browser that helps bring African Americans to web 2.0. My dad would use this. I would have to set it up of course, but if he could discover videos, get RSS, email and do basic social media stuff in one place, that would appeal to him. These are the same reasons I use flock as my primary browser.

Angela says:

@Cecily I think there are many types of “black cultures” in regards to culture I think it can get as finite as the individual. Same applies to blacks, however I do think a majority of blacks can relate to one another in some way shape or form. This is not to say that Blacks can’t relate to others in that same way and visa versa. Unfortunately things have already been classified as “Black” or “Insert a race or Culture” in our society.

Regarding the product, it is interesting, I don’t think I am their demo so would probably not use it on a daily basis plus I’m on a MAC. I think it is a rare opportunity that Black websites get the opportunity to be featured in a browser. I know BW 2.0 would not be a bookmark under News in any other browser (Chrome, IE, FF, Safari, Opera). BTW Thanks @Blackbird for that! 😉

I’ll be honest, this would have been a great idea in 1999, 2000.
An African American / black themed browser in 2008, is just a browser. People of all races are connecting worldwide, and have been since….since…

Good luck.

You should have studied the internet crash of 2000/2001, AND Urbanexpose.com when it was up.

Consider getting into another line of business.

Cecily says:

Tell me, what is the “black culture”? Will a black person from Des Moines and a black person from Atlanta, GA share the same culture and experience?

This is my problem with Blackbird. Far be it from me to pooh-pooh the entrepreneurial spirit, but in this day and age I’m weary (and wary) of black people who continue to perpetuate the myth that there is only *one* black community, *one* black experience, and *one* black culture.

It’s April again from AroundHarlem.com.

The #1 reason I don’t like filtered browsers because I see it a step backwards in technology.

Anybody get their start online with AOL? Remember at one time lots of people thought AOL was the internet?

Once you control content through a browser you control access to information.

The web is about equal access to info and for all.

I don’t want African Americans to go into a web black hole with content choose by other people.

Remember, the browser is your main access to info.

Check out the link to my blog about this browser.

http://blog-aroundharlem.com/2008/12/08/blackbird-the-african-american-web-browser-and-philanthropry-on-the-web/

Most Popular

Established in August 2007 Black Web 2.0 is the premier destination for African-American’s in Technology and New Media. We cover culturally relevant Technology industry news; mainstream Technology industry news; & African-American Technology and New Media Executives, Entrepreneurs, and Influencers. We also analyze emerging web trends and how they apply to web properties that target African-Americans or African-American culture.

Copyright © 2016 Black Web 2.0. 3501 Jack Northrop Ave, Office 11690, Hawthorne, CA, 90250, USA

To Top