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The Europe Roundup: Open Data in Progress

BY Antonella Napolitano | Tuesday, June 28 2011

  • France | Open data in progress
    The open data movement is making progress in France: while the government is working on a national open data initiative, a group of open data organisations have drafted a Declaration on Open Data in France. The update comes from the Open Knowledge foundation, also working on the project:

    The declaration emphasises the importance of a legal and licensing strategy which means that French public datasets are made freely available for re-use for any purpose (as per OpenDefinition.org).
    This comes at an important juncture, while the French Government is still busy working out the legal and technical details for the new data.gouv.fr initiative.
    A recent speech from Séverin Naudet (of data.gouv.fr) at the European Digital Agenda Assembly last week gave strong, explicit support for minimising restrictions and maximising the reusability of French public datasets, recognising the wide variety of social and economic benefits that fully open data can deliver.

    The group of organisations includes Regards Citoyens, Creative Commons France and Veni VidiLibri.

  • EU | OpenSpending goes live
    Want to help map government finance from all around the globe? Have a look at OpenSpending and get involved!
    The website - launching today after some very interesting initiatives - aims to track every government and corporate financial transaction across the world and present it in useful forms for everyone.
    Of course people’s participation is crucial for the success of the project:

    Much like OpenStreetMap, we want people to be able to add to this database easily, using
    information from places and organisations of interest to them. We hope that the ease with which citizens can obtain budget data from local governments will continue to increase, and
    OpenSpending provides a platform for them to store and visualise it for the benefit of everyone in their community.
    OpenSpending already provides an interface to your data, but we also aim to provide a white label service for custom sites such as Where Does My Money Go, built to allow UK taxpayers to understand where their government spends public money.

    So far the focus have been mainly on the UK, also thanks to the great amount of available data at data.gov.uk, but datasets range from the Israeli budget to the Italian regional public accounts.
    You can contribute by joining the OpenSpending mailing list and the wiki portal.
    Open Spending will explain all the activities in a workshop at the Open Knowledge conference next June 29th in Berlin

  • EU | EU Journalism: faster, but less deep
    What’ s the state of the art of EU journalism? The crisis seems to have played a part in that field too: the media outlets can’ t keep their presence in Brussels as they did in the past: the result is a faster journalism, though declining in depthness. It’s the opinion of Reijo Kemppinen, the European Council's director-general for press and communications:

    So it seems gone are the days when a new journalist was given six months to settle down, look around himself or herself and learn the language, learn the place and learn the people. Now, not only do they have to start immediately, but they have to do the same story in three to four different formats: print, audiovisual and websites," he added.
    As a result, even in the hands of the most skilful, the quality of journalism has suffered, Kemppinen argued. Brussels journalism "may not become less accurate, but it becomes faster and it becomes less deep," he said.

    In his interview to EurActiv, Kemppinen seems also aware of the role that social media can play:

    In particular, Kemppinen stressed that Twitter had become an important tool of communication for the Council. Council President Herman Van Rompuy is an active tweeter himself, and for the first time ever, breaking news has been made available almost in real time in the middle of EU summits thanks to his use of social media.
    Kemppinen also spoke out in favour of better understanding national audiences, as EU communication often appears trapped in the 'Brussels bubble'. To achieve this goal, his services are now developing an online strategy, he explained.

    Ironically, the director-general underlines the risks of being trapped in the “ Brussels bubble”, something that eurobloggers have been lamenting already...a sign of even faster “ integration” ?

  • Spain | The protest is on - and it’s on posters, too
    Nobody expected the Spanish revolution and not many expected that people would have protested
    for so long. On June 19th the permanent gatherings organized a march all over the country. Owni.eu reprises news from El Pais:

    According to El Pais [ES], the march that took place on Sunday, June 19 [#19J] gathered 200,000 people throughout Spain in protest over the crisis. The mass organization was not a coincidence – the meeting places were assigned between 9am and 10am, which would finally result in everyone converging at Neptune Square at 2pm. This is south of Retiro Park, and only 200 meters from the Assembly (El Congreso).

    [...] The rejection to the Euro Pact was the major point for this recent manifestation. It calls on countries in the Euro zone to find a compromise and make propositions on several key issues: competitive wages, employment, public finances and control over the deficit. The bill was proposed in Brussels on March 12, and will be up for a vote on June 27.

    The protesters (mostly young people) are conducting a peaceful protest showing also some creativity as a distinctive trait of their protest, as you can see on Owni.eu’ s roundup of pictures and news from the Spanish revolution.

News Briefs

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Armenian Legislators: You Can Be As Anonymous on the 'Net As You Like—Until You Can't

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The Good Wife Looks for the Next Snowden and Outwits the NSA

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The Expanding Reach of China's Crowdsourced Environmental Monitoring Site, Danger Maps

Last week billionaire businessman Jack Ma, founder of the e-commerce company Alibaba, appealed to his “500 million-strong army” of consumers to help monitor water quality in China. Inexpensive testing kits sold through his company can be used to measure pH, phosphates, ammonia, and heavy metal levels, and then the data can be uploaded via smartphone to the environmental monitoring site Danger Maps. Although the initiative will push the Chinese authorities' tolerance for civic engagement and activism, Ethan Zuckerman has high hopes for “monitorial citizenship” in China.

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The 13 Worst Bits of Russia's Current and Maybe Future Internet Legislation

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