Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Ethnic Browsers

A new version of Mozilla was recently released, the Blackbird browser is aimed at African Americans. It features a design, content and add-ons which are supposed to appeal to African Americans. The idea of a customized browser is nothing new, however as far as I know Blackbird is the first ethnic specific browser to be released to the public.

The browser contains a few unique features which are supposed to make finding relevant web content easier for African Americans. Blackbird includes a number of networking and social bookmarking tools, a charity content channel designed to connect users to African American focused organizations, and a search box which bases its results around the niche market of African Americans. Overall the Blackbird browser operates a lot like Firefox does after user customer customizations.

I get the idea of niche browsers and love the ability to customize Firefox with add-ons and personal features. However I'm not completely sure the idea of a ethnic browser sits well with me. Generalizations about what African Americans are interested in and their preferences are made by some of the Blackbird features. These generalizations have the potential to make information more readily accessible to users, however they are generalizations and don't apply to everyone. I'm not convinced that internet users should have a specific browser based on their race, age, gender, or anything else. It might be more useful to teach users about the wide range of add-ons available to personalize browsers.

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