»Let's unite to build a future where every European language has a voice in the digital realm.« Europe Day

Celebrating Europe Day 2024: A Call for Greater Collaboration and Digital Sovereignty

Today marks a significant moment in European history. On this day, we reflect on the signing of the Schuhmann Declaration in 1950, a pivotal event that fostered collaboration and peaceful relations between France and West Germany post-World War II, eventually expanding to include other European nations. This historic collaboration has shown us that unity is not just a counterbalance to competition, but also a means of creating emergence. However, there is a pressing need to enhance cooperation further, both in our physical and digital realms.

Europe’s Untapped Potential: A Blend of Cultural and Linguistic Diversity

Europe has the potential for excellence across many domains, and yet this potential is largely unleveraged due to the special linguistic and territorial situation we encounter.

Despite its compact size, the continent is rich with approximately 225 indigenous languages, presenting a ripe opportunity for innovation through linguistic and cultural diversity. The challenge remains to harness this diverse information and lived experiences, making them accessible to foster shared knowledge.

The Digital Challenge: Language Models and Internet Search

Predominantly, search engines and Large Language Models, which underpin generative AI, are skewed towards English, reflecting a broader trend of digital exclusion. And this is just one facet of the broader issue where non-English content often finds limited representation in internet search results.

But why is that? The root of this issue lies in the global dominance of major digital platforms. When it comes to Internet Search, currently there are only four major web indizes available—two in the United States, one in China, and one in Russia. Europe per se lacks an index of its own, that acknowledges the wealth of linguistic diversity. This gap underscores a critical lack of digital sovereignty, which could potentially stifle Europe’s societal, economic, and political progress.

Steering Towards a Solution with OWS.EU

In response to this challenge, we founded OWS.EU, a pioneering initiative aimed at developing a pan-European index that embraces our continent’s linguistic diversity. Launched in 2023, our OWLer crawler is already making strides by daily indexing websites from across Europe and beyond. As we reach the midpoint of this project, we are beginning to evaluate results from third-party collaborations, opening our infrastructure to beta testers, and continuously seeking further political and economic support.

Today, as we commemorate Europe’s past achievements, let’s also look forward to a future of enhanced collaboration and development. Celebrate Europe Day by reflecting on our shared history and the exciting possibilities ahead.

Most importantly, cave out some time today to celebrate Europe Day – both looking back and looking forward in the name of collaboration and development!