May 23, 2022

Reporters Without Borders Establishes Virtual Library in Minecraft

#TruthFindsAWay. The RSF has helped build The Uncensored Library, the largest, virtual building of its kind anywhere in the world.

The Free Press is a quintessential part of a fair and just world. It provides constant information for journalists regardless of creed, colour, religion, or any other categorisation. All without censorship or bias.

In turn, these journalists provide news and information back to the public.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF), is one of the leading defenders of this freedom of the press. The organisation has recently found a new way to overcome censorship in the form of a safe haven for the world’s press. And one of the most unlikely of places has provided it: Minecraft.

As the RSF notes:

“In many countries, free information is hard to access. Blogs, newspapers and websites are censored. Journalists get arrested and have to fear for their lives.

Such censorship lets many young people grow up in systems with almost no access to an independent press. Their opinions become heavily manipulated by governmental disinformation campaigns”.

We don’t often think about it in most Western countries, but we are extremely lucky. Our freedom of expression and the right to fair speech allows us to share our thoughts and feelings about any given topic.

However, there are just as many countries where these rights are not routinely available, if at all. And with some 145 million monthly Minecraft users, it becomes the most ideal of safe havens for any budding journalist.

Welcome to The Uncensored Library

Again, despite the limitations some countries’ governments or ruling bodies might force upon their citizens, no such limitations impede on Minecraft. As such, RSF has established this virtual haven within Minecraft and built “The Uncensored Library“.

As the RSF states:

“[This is] a library that is now accessible on an open server for Minecraft players around the globe. The library is filled with books, containing articles that were censored in their country of origin.

These articles are now available again within Minecraft, hidden from government surveillance technology inside a computer game. The books can be read by everyone on the server, but their content cannot be changed.

The library is growing, with more and more books being added to overcome censorship”.

In an extreme example of how journalists can be censored, Jamal Khashoggi was assassinated by the Saudi Arabian government following his outspoken coverage of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. (There’s a heck of a lot more to it than that one sentence can cover. His is a great example of how important freedom of the press is, though).

Khashoggi’s fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, once said:

“We need to defend press freedom every day”.

Managing Director of RSF Germany, Christian Mihr, added:

“In many countries around the world, there is no free access to information. Websites are blocked, independent newspapers are banned and the press is controlled by the state. Young people grow up without being able to form their own opinions.

By using Minecraft, the world’s most popular computer game, as a medium, we give them access to independent information”.

A True Place of Learning

As of 12th March, The Uncensored Library has opened its doors. Young people the world over can now gain access to independent information through a familiar and interactive medium.

The true impact of The Uncensored Library can not be understated. Journalists from five different countries now have a place where their voices can be heard once again. These journalists, purely because of where they live, have been banned, jailed, exiled, or even killed.

Formerly censored articles are now fully restored as uncensored Minecraft tomes. They have been written in English and the article’s original language.

It Tests the Limits of Minecraft

Whilst it is a symbolic testament to the struggles some people endure daily, it’s also an impressive build, even by Minecraft standards. Taking over three months to build and from over 12.5 million blocks, The Uncensored Library is a marvel in the world of (digital) architecture.

24 builders from 16 different countries over 250 hours to design and fully assemble the library. The main dome stands nearly 300 metres wide. For context, this puts it at the equivalent of being the second-largest in the world!

BlockWorks’ Managing Director and The Uncensored Library’s architect, James Delaney, noted how:

“The Uncensored Library is a bold use of Minecraft. It really encapsulates everything that is great about this game and the community it has created”.

The Power of Journalism

BlockWorks helped build The Uncensored Library. Taking inspiration from ancient Roman and Greek architecture, The Uncensored Library would not look out of place next to real-world museums, galleries, or other libraries. The style also connotes an aura of knowledge.

To visit The Uncensored Library, check out the server here. And please remember that your voice is a powerful thing. You hold such power with your opinion and thoughts. There are millions in the world who do not get the chance to say what they want for fear of recrimination.

They might try to silence you, but They will never be able to silence the truth. To paraphrase Sir Francis Bacon, “knowledge is power”.

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