Personal Democracy Plus Our premium content network. LEARN MORE You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

The Europe Roundup: Twitter to Hire a Team in Germany

BY Antonella Napolitano | Monday, January 23 2012

Photo: EPSI platform / Flickr.
  • Germany | Twitter to Hire a Team in Germany

    Yesterday, at the DLD conference in Munich, Twitter chairman Jack Dorsey announced that the company is about to add another European staff in Germany.
    The team will be the third one for Twitter in Europe, after ones in London and Dublin.

    There are many strategic reasons for the choice of the country, writes Martin Bryant at The Next Web:

    A focus on Germany is interesting as it was mentioned on-stage by Schmidt that usage levels in the country [is] as high as in some other parts of Europe.
    Still, Twitter has a strong connection with the country – some of its earliest code was written there by original team member Florian Weber. Weber, who is now CTO and co-founder of hot Berlin startup Amen, worked on Twitter code in Germany for three months before he returned to the US.

    Berlin is also considered the place to be for European startups right now, because of its relatively cheap rents and the peculiar position between Western and Eastern Europe that help foster cultural and technology exchange.

    But Germany is also known for the strict positions of its government on privacy and citizens' data protection, sensitive topics that Twitter will have to keep in mind when developing its strategy.
    Other companies are already doing this: back in September, Richard Allan, director of policy in Europe at Facebook, and German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich announced that Facebook will sign a voluntary code of conduct in Germany to protect users' data.

  • France | The State of Open Data

    French NGO LiberTIC recently published a map showing the state of open data in France.
    This is the fourth map of this kind, the first one being published in August 2010.

    Flickr Epsi platform

    The map has been created by LiberTIC with the contribute of people pointing out interesting local initiatives, which now appear present at all levels of government.
    In early December the French government also unveiled a national data portal.

    The organization also shares concerns about the lack of shared procedures for these initiatives:

    [...] the shape of this map also reveals its limitations, namely its inability to demonstrate the quality of procedures for the provision of data, that varies greatly from one initiative to another. The Open Data project in the village of Brocas (we welcome the interest in the subject) reflects such a problematic use of the term for an Open Data initiative that does not take into account the criteria of the movement. 

    To resolve this problem, we will publish in the coming days a classification of open communities based on quality initiatives. In the meantime, you can already visit the open data interactive map developed by contributors during the Open Data Hackathon of Nantes. The interactive map is not yet presented to date but she already identifies some criteria for the differentiation initiatives. 

  • UK | A Local Wikipedia in Wales

    A town in Wales is about to have its own Wikipedia: Monmouth, a town with about 9,000 inhabitants, is the source of a local online sub-project called Monmouthpedia.
    The local county council is sponsoring the project, and some expenses will be covered by Wikimedia UK.

    The town has a great historical value — BBC News notes that it is named in the Domesday Book of 1086. Wikipedia and the project's leader, John Cummings, hope that local people will contribute to the wiki with articles and historical photographs. reports more on the initiative:

    Online resources will be linked to real places using “QRpedia codes”, a type of QR or Quick Response square barcode read using a smartphone camera with an enhanced ability to detect the language used by the phone and offer information in that language, if available. Codes will be presented in a range of formats from ceramic or metal plaques to stickers inside buildings or biodegradable plastic labels for objects such as trees. Articles will also feature map co-ordinates or “geotags” to allow browsing by digital mapping and systems and “augmented reality” software.

    Monmouthpedia will be made available in several languages, including Welsh, and will let people take a virtual tour of the town.
    Monmouthpedia authors claim this is the first Wikipedia project to cover a whole town. Similar initiatives can be found in France, though related to bigger areas: examples can be found in the west of France, in Manche and in the Brest area (Pays de Brest).


  • The Monmoutshire County Council is also accepting Freedom of Information requests made via Twitter.
  • The French Internet agency La Netscouade lists the top 20 French institutions on Twitter. The first is @francediplo, the account of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with more than 121,000 followers. @Elysee, the account of the French presidency comes only second with 70,000 followers.

News Briefs

RSS Feed tuesday > Reboots As a Candidate Digital Toolkit That's a Bit Too Like launched with big ambitions and star appeal, hoping to crack the code on how to get millions of people to pool their political passions through their platform. When that ambition stalled, its founder Nathan Daschle--son of the former Senator--decided to pivot to offering political candidates an easy-to-use free web platform for organizing and fundraising. Now the new is out from stealth mode, entering a field already being served by competitors like NationBuilder, Salsa Labs and And strangely enough, seems to want its early users to ask for help. GO

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

A proposed bill in Armenia would make it illegal for media outlets to include defamatory remarks by anonymous or fake sources, and require sites to remove libelous comments within 12 hours unless they identify the author.


monday >

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

Even as the real Edward Snowden faces questions over his motives in Russia, another side of his legacy played out for the over nine million viewers of last night's The Good Wife, which concluded its season long storyline exploring NSA surveillance. In the episode titled All Tapped Out, one young NSA worker's legal concerns lead him to becoming a whistle-blower, setting off a chain of events that allows the main character, lawyer Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies), and her husband, Illinois Governor Peter Florrick (Chris Noth), to turn the tables on the NSA using its own methods. GO

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.


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

It appears that Russia is on the brink of passing still more repressive Internet regulations. A new telecommunications bill that would require popular blogs—those with 3,000 or more visits a day—to join a government registry and conform to government-mandated standards is expected to pass this week. What follows is a list of the worst bits of both proposed and existing Russian Internet law. Let us know in the comments or on Twitter if we missed anything.


Transparency and Public Shaming: Pakistan Tackles Tax Evasion

In Pakistan, where only one in 200 citizens files their income tax return, authorities published a directory of taxpayers' details for the first time. Officials explained the decision as an attempt to shame defaulters into paying up.


wednesday >

Facebook Seeks Approval as Financial Service in Ireland. Is the Developing World Next?

On April 13 the Financial Times reported that Facebook is only weeks away from being approved as a financial service in Ireland. Is this foray into e-money motivated by Facebook's desire to conquer the developing world before other corporate Internet giants do? Maybe.


The Rise and Fall of Iran's “Blogestan”

The robust community of Iranian bloggers—sometimes nicknamed “Blogestan”—has shrunk since its heyday between 2002 – 2010. “Whither Blogestan,” a recent report from the University of Pennsylvania's Iran Media Program sought to find out how and why. The researchers performed a web crawling analysis of Blogestan, survey 165 Persian blog users, and conducted 20 interviews with influential bloggers in the Persian community. They found multiple causes of the decline in blogging, including increased social media use and interference from authorities.