Fly high on the net with Blackbird

The Blackbird browser puts a whole new thrill in my Internet experience.
If you haven’t downloaded the software that provides your desktop interface, try it out.
Blackbird brings all of black America to your computer in real time.
The first thing you’ll notice is a crawl across the top of the screen that shares news stories which you probably never would have seen.
It reminds me of my first job out of Howard University, as a rewrite copy editor at the national desk of the AFRO-AMERICAN Newspapers in Baltimore in the mid-1970s. Every day I had to wade through a stack of newspapers from around the country to find any stories on African-Americans. It took me all week.
Now Blackbird does the same thing in seconds.
The other immediately-obvious feature is the customized search. If you type in an African-American search term on a regular search engine, you might get 20 extraneous sites for each one you’re seeking.
Blackbird’s search engine has been pre-screened to highlight the sources which are most likely to yield content specific to African-Americans. The leading search engines rely heavily on mass media, which does not fairly represent African-Americans.
If you’re not in the news, you’re not on most search engines.
But the designers of Blackbird’s search feature made sure that other sources were included in the mix.
A local black theatre company might get three times as many listings on Blackbird as other browsers.
But more information is just the beginning of the opportunities.
Founders Arnold Brown, Frank Washington and H. Edward Young are all experienced serial entrepreneurs who have run major music sites, magazines and television stations.
Their real intent with the browser is to create a platform for innovators to design all sorts of new applications which meet the needs of our community. This can parallel all the new businesses which have emerged in the wake of smart cell phones.
Apps which locate African-American restaurants or businesses, games which animate our cultural expressions and learning challenges to improve student outcomes all become much easier now that there is a distribution mechanism in the form of the Blackbird browser.
Two of the founders, Brown and Young, join venture capitalist Mike Beasley as part of the Catapult series on Saturday, March 20 at 11 a.m. at 2160 Lundy Ave. in San Jose to discuss how to create such new businesses and get them funded.
The news this week of the national broadband plan is an example of how the barriers to entry into such cutting edge fields are about to be lowered. Yet 59 percent of African-Americans do not have broadband, according to FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn.
It is the shortage of applications which is the major retardant to their adoption of this technology. When African-Americans see a clear use for technology, they are among the fiercest adopters. The paucity of investment capital has restrained the growth of companies like Blackbird.
Yet the demand for services, such as a good way to calculate the long term costs of mortgages, will continue to grow. In this phase of technology, it is more important that we focus on competing as developers and manufacturers than merely passive consumers.
With 16.5 percent unemployment, it is these digital businesses which will drive economic development in black neighborhoods.


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