“We are paying with our data, our privacy, economic independence and democratic sovereignty” – Leopold Beer from the Süddeutsche Zeitung quotes OSF board member Stefan Voigt.

The Süddeutsche Zeitung reports on the Open Search Foundation and its plan to democratize Web Search. In the context of the upcoming European elections 2024, the article draws attention to the weaknesses of current web search and shows how commercially operated digital platforms could influence voting decisions.

The article summarizes many aspects and also portrays the EU project OpenWebSearch.eu, which is funded by the European Commission under the umbrella of Horizon Europe. OpenWebSearch.eu is a collaborative research project consisting of 14 consortium partners. The aim is to create a prototype of a European web index that guarantees Europe’s digital sovereignty and serves the common good. The Open Search Foundation is one of the consortium partners and a key driver of the project.

The report appeared in the Süddeutsche Zeitung and online at sz.de:


The “Free Web Search Day” #FWSD will take place again on September 29, 2024. The Open Search Foundation launched the annual Action Day. Every year, various events and campaigns around #FWSD draw attention to the challenges and opportunities of internet search and provide knowledge and tips. Companies and private individuals can once again show their support on 29 September and actively or passively participate in the extensive range of activities: freewebsearch.org

CERN Courier features the Open Search Foundation in an article about Open Web Search. Andreas Wagner – member of the CERN IT department – was interviewed on the EU funded OpenWebSearch.eu project, which aims to establish an OpenWebIndex in a collaborative, non-profit environment.

In the interview he also mentions the #ossym conference series, which was initiated by the Open Search Foundation 6 years ago.
#ossym brings together the Open Web Search Community once a year in a hybrid conference format to discuss, promote and develop new ideas for the future of European Web Search. The next #ossym is scheduled for 9-11 October 2024 at LRZ in Munich/Germany: https://opensearchfoundation.org/en/events-osf/ossym24/

To learn more about why Open Web Search matters in a European and global context, head over to the full interview:

Three years, five data centers, six universities, six third-party partners,…: These are just a few of the parameters for the EU project OpenWebSearch.eu, which was initiated in 2022 by the Open Search Foundation and 13 European partners with the aim of creating an open, European search index.

For his book “Der Kampf um das Internet – Wie Wikipedia, Mastodon und Co. die Tech-Giganten herausfordern”, author Stefan Mey also interviewed Open Search Foundation board members Stefan Voigt and Christine Plote about the basic ideas, motivations and drive behind the Open Search Initiative.

You can now read an excerpt from the interview on Telepolis (available in German): https://www.telepolis.de/features/Wer-das-freie-Internet-gegen-Staat-und-Konzerne-verteidigt-9585983.html?seite=2

Also in the book: a portrait of the Open Search Foundation. Find the book on the publisher’s website: https://www.chbeck.de/mey-kampf-internet/product/35518159

„The web is critical infrastructure, and should be treated as such“ is the title of #HIPEAC Magazine #69, which contains an in-depth interview with OpenWebSearch.eu researchers …

“Does it always have to be Google or Bing? With the OpenWebSearch project, the EU wants to protect its sovereignty on the Internet. The goal is a freely accessible web directory that feeds diverse search engines and language models and should trigger a boom in new web services.

Arne Grävemeyer reports in the 9/2023 issue of c’t about the openwebsearch.eu project, in which the Open Search Foundation is significantly involved. The article takes a detailed look at the project, its background and future development. Michael Granitzer (University of Passau, OSF and project lead of openwebsearch.eu), Stefan Voigt (Open Search Foundation, DLR), Christian Gütl (Graz University of Technology) and Phil Höfer (SuMa e.V./MetaGer) have their say.

“But what could you do with a large web index if it were freely available to the public? One could build alternative search engines or specialised search services according to selected topics. Users would have free choice and could better protect their private user profiles. Linguists could use the data pool of a large web index to follow how our language is developing, and sociologists could observe how we interact with each other in the social media. Web services could use it to look for clues to incipient pandemics or other catastrophic events and thus build an early warning system.”

“We are not a European Google,” says Michael Granitzer, Chair of Data Science at the University of Passau, who is coordinating the OpenWebSearch project. He says the project is not about building a large search engine, but much more fundamentally about establishing an infrastructure that search engines and other services can later work with. Google’s size is certainly out of reach at the beginning. “It will be more like Wikipedia, which started with a small core compared to large publishers and then grew continuously.”

“Even at the start of the project, and thus before the hype around ChatGPT, the partners considered the Open Web Index, with its focus on European content and languages, as a data pool for specialised language models. New search engines could also immediately use these models as an interface for search queries. “Users are usually not looking for links, but for answers to their questions or even suggested solutions,” says Gütl. That speaks for the use of chatbots, he says.”

“In terms of Europe’s digital sovereignty, the Open Web Index can certainly be seen as a critical infrastructure. The project partners hope that it will create transparent structures on the web. The envisaged European web index promises more plurality and hopefully benefits above all those who simply provide the best and most reliable information on their websites.”

Online version of the article (paywall) at heise.de

Links to Open Web Search, compiled by c’t: ct.de/y6sw

“Google dominates internet search, now an EU project is trying to build an alternative with ‘European values’. Can it succeed?” – The SZ reported on our EU project OpenWebSearch.eu in the business section. Mirjam Hauck spoke with Michael Granitzer about it. He researches and teaches at the University of Passau and heads the 8.5 million euro project.

“We can’t compete with Google,” Granitzer says, dampening expectations. It is difficult to displace the top dogs. And the budget of 8.5 million euros is “a drop in the ocean”. By way of comparison: Microsoft has invested ten billion dollars in the AI company OpenAI and its bot Chat-GPT alone. That is about 1200 times the budget of the EU project.”

The goal of Open Web Search is to eventually cover 50 to 60 percent of the websites that Google also has in its index. That would be about 500 to 600 billion web pages. Because, as Michael Granitzer explains it: “More than 50 percent is a critical mass. If it works with that, you can also cover 100 per cent with more computer resources.”

Granitzer does not believe that they are too late with the OWI. “It’s not about building a competitor to Google or Microsoft, but first about making web data more easily accessible,” says the professor. This data could also be used to train CI models. In addition, “we simply have to make progress on this topic in Europe”.

For Granitzer, his project is also about whether a different advertising market and thus different business models are possible than those dominated by Google. If users had several search engines to choose from, there would be no such problems, says Granitzer. “Oligopolies or monopolies have never been drivers of innovation.” An example: “Currently, we are limited to seeing a list of ten links, of which we look at three, and there is a lot of advertising, which is increasing. I’m already asking myself the question: is this really web search?”


Online Version of the article at sueddeutsche.de (German, Paywall)

“With a market share of over 90 percent, Google is regularly the number one search engine in Europe. Since 2004, “googling” has been officially listed as a verb in the dictionary and stands for searching or researching on the Internet with the application of the subsidiary of the US umbrella company Alphabet. As the gateway for a large number of Europeans and citizens worldwide, Google not only opens up information, but also helps determine their view of the Internet and the things depicted on it.” …

The full blog article at California18 can be found here: https://california18.com/missing-link-open-web-index-to-make-europe-independent-in-searching/9087352023/