Reporters Without Borders, Virtually

Meet The Uncensored Library

Yes, it looks like a Minecraft world because it is. This is a Minecraft server made by a team 24 builders from 16 countries dedicated to the importance and freedom of the press.

Easily one of the most ambitious Minecraft projects to date, design studio blockworks worked with Reporters Without Borders, MediaMonks and DDB to create a Minecraft experience exposing press censorship and making journalism available to everyone.

“We were asked to build a giant library inside Minecraft which contains censored journals and articles, banned in several countries, thus bypassing press censorship in oppressive regimes.”

The Uncensored Library

The project is immeasurably large and important.

Every country is represented, within the library, every country’s flag on the circular, virtual wall. At this time when more than ever are online, in virtual environments, and augmented realities, exploring what it means to be digital, The Uncensored Library project has converged News Media, Video Games, and Virtual Worlds, to ensure an archive and access exist to the first hand reports of what’s going on throughout the world.

Articles and published journals can be uploaded to the library; a library in a game known for surviving with a pick axe and seeds.

Take a tour

Ranging over a million blocks, the library hosts special exhibition halls on 5 countries notorious for their press censorship: Russia, Vietnam, Mexico, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Minecraft is a bit of a loophole, and this entire experience might help us all appreciate how the internet forces us all into a world that is more recognizing of free speech and knowledge transfer: while local laws might prohibit, something as ubiquitous and seemingly irrelevant as Minecraft can be used to overcome hurdles. The library is hosted on a server that enables anyone from around the world to visit – regardless of press censorship in their countries.

The digital home of press freedom

blockworks, founded in early 2013, consists of over 30 designers, animators, artists and developers from around the world, with an expertise Minecraft in marketing, media and education. And this, the world’s most successful computer game is something accessible; a loophole to bypass internet censorship to bring forth the truth.

Comments on Reporters Without Borders, Virtually

  • Deanna Ramirez

    Soooo kiddos can access it? ?

  • Shelley Delayne

    Deanna Ramirez I would imagine so.

    Kiddos can access all kinds of worlds on Minecraft servers.
    *most* public worlds are G-rated builds, but nothing guarantees that.

    And I’ve seen/heard about player behavior that is Killing/stealing, coercing, destruction, saying inappropriate things in chat…

    If a kid plays on an open server it’s not that different than letting them go to a real world shopping mall or somewhere public. Everything is there.

    That’s why private servers/invite only games and playing alone/offline are good ideas for littler kids. More controllable/sheltered.

    And I think this world is super cool!!! Thanks, Paul. Can not wait to go check it out.

  • Paul O’Brien

    yeah I believe so Deanna Ramirez, no reason it couldn’t be accessed by everyone. Getting on a Minecraft server isn’t as easy as just visiting a website URL, so it’s not as though it’s just a click to get there for kids playing Minecraft… but still.

    TBH, that fact is why I’m such a public advocate of the fact that online, the best policy for society is that there is no security and no privacy. Period. The world got really off track with reality at some point in the last decade; when politicians and the media started hyping how much we should all expect (demand and legislate) being safe and secure online…. it’s not possible. We’re sending the wrong message to parents, and kids, implying that companies/tech can/should make it safe for people; because they can’t. The right message? Being online is the virtual equivalence of walking out your door: everyone can see, hear, and record you. Parents should only have their kids online as much as they’d let them be outside alone.

  • Deanna Ramirez

    Paul O’Brien yeah I don’t let my kiddo outside alone, lol. And you KNOW how strict I am about electronics, even ones not Internet-connected. I’m of the belief (most) kiddos fare better with real world, natural stimuli and less blue light, constant stimulation/instant gratification. I’m overly strict according to most, but it is what it is.
    I remember the things I discovered as a kid. comes to mind. BME pain awards. Anarchist cookbook. How to kill yourself. Etc.

  • JD Santos

    It’s a really cool concept, but journalists have been writing articles about it for the last few weeks and I’m worried how long it’ll be before it gets censored in the target countries.

  • Luis Felipe Giraldo-Rojas

    Woaah, pretty mindblowing!

  • Rachel Chappelear

    AMAZING! I got a tour by my youngest Minecrafter last night.

  • Paul O’Brien

    Hey, since your family knows… do you all know if it’s at all easy to set up and have a server for the neighborhood… get kids together in something?

  • Marlon Mongomery

    Paul O’Brien I’ve set up a couple in the past with my son. I can get one up and running for you on AWS or GCP. If I remember correctly, a decent machine ran about $50 p/m to handle about 10-15 kids. The real challenge is the social engineering required for the admin/moderator. There’s a ton of different configurations/rules possible in the game (what kind of mode, what is allowed, etc…). Give me a shout if you want me to build one for ya.

  • Paul O’Brien

    Brilliant Marlon Montgomery and yeah but my thought is more so this… my son has tried… heck I’ve tried… it’s typically just tough for people (kids) to figure out how to get on one.
    I’m thinking… one for “Steiner Ranch”

    Let’s do something fun as a neighborhood and get the community on it.

    As I understand it, you can get a world built based on a real map… meaning we literally could launch Steiner Ranch where everyone can go play. Maybe do a little something to make sure the world doesn’t just get destroyed but could be built upon…

    Thing being… make it stupidly simple for families to get on it (appreciate most can’t figure out how; I don’t know how). A link to click that just loads it for people??

    We plus the Chappelears could get it going by participating and I could launch it via Steiner Ranch Post and the parent/kid groups as something we’re doing together while we’re stuck at home 🙂

Reporters Without Borders, Virtually

by Paul O'Brien time to read: 1 min