The Uncensored New Library of Alexandra

Minecraft users have been building a 1:1 replica of Earth to preserve a record of our planet and our current civilisation in event of its destruction (and goodness knows there are enough options for total world-ending destruction available these days) for some time now.

As a sub-plot to that grand plan, Reporters Without Borders is leading a special project to build a censorship-resistant in-game virtual library of banned books and other important texts that have been censored by less than benevolent governments. The Uncensored Library, in some ways reminiscent of a modern day Library of Alexandra contains full copies of journalistic articles, texts and banned books that would otherwise be inaccessible to citizens living in nations with press censorship under oppressive regimes.  As a particular fan of banned books (all the best books are banned, or at least well disapproved of by the popular majority at one time or another – all the best ideas are dangerous, just like all the best tools are double-edged), I approve of this project.

This use of gaming platforms as archives for real world content and physical spaces should be of keen interest to future historians. Information in contemporary society is subject to digital fragility. Not only is digital data physically corruptible in that the hardware devices required to decode that information may one day disappear, but it is also risk of deliberate corruption, as technology allows us to edit textual, photographic and video evidence and thereby erase or even rewrite history; making fake news a threat to past as well as present information integrity.

Minecraft (along with other artificial worlds in gaming platforms) may very well become regarded as time capsules, capturing a moment in time of life on Earth in the early 21st century.

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