23 : 03 : 20

An interactive HQ for Black Girls Code, TikTok opens doors for feedback, and retail brands could soon adopt more discreet chatbots.

Minecraft becomes a safe space for censored journalists

Reporters Without Boarders, France

France – Reporters Without Borders is turning to gaming to give a voice to censored writers from countries such as Egypt, Russia and Saudi Arabia.

Expanding the NGO’s #TruthFindsAWay campaign, it has joined forces with creative agency DBB Germany and design studio BlockWorks to build a virtual library within Minecraft, dubbed a safe haven for press freedom.

With the digital world of Minecraft attracting over 145m active users each month, Reporters Without Borders hopes that The Uncensored Library – filled with books containing articles censored in their country of origin – will reach younger audiences. Within this virtual library, texts can be read by anyone on the Minecraft server, albeit hidden from government surveillance technology. More books will be added in future.

‘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,’ says Christian Mihr, executive director of Reporters Without Borders Germany.

In this way, Reporters Without Borders is demonstrating Intelligent Gaming, whereby content creators use alternative forms of media to contextualise and intellectualise gaming.

A technology hub for girls of colour

Black Girls Code Lab in New York. Designed by architect Danish Kurani, US
Black Girls Code Lab in New York. Designed by architect Danish Kurani, US
Black Girls Code Lab in New York. Designed by architect Danish Kurani, US Black Girls Code Lab in New York. Designed by architect Danish Kurani, US

New York – Black Girls Code has opened an educational space for young girls of colour that aims to demystify technology.

The non-profit-making organisation worked with architect Danish Kurani to revamp 3,900 square feet of space at Google’s New York offices, using playful interior design to make technology and science less intimidating. Part of the space’s ceiling has been designed as a larger-than-life motherboard, while in the main classroom wall graphics illustrate the inner workings of everyday technology, such as mobile phones and digital cameras.

‘I designed the lab for kids to see how technology works inside,’ explains Danish Kurani. ‘The design takes us back to breaking things open and exploring how they’re made. When you remove the mysterious shell, girls see that tech is just parts and pieces, hardware and software they can tinker with and design themselves.’

In this way, architect Danish Kurani and Black Girls Code demonstrate the role of design and alternative education in empowering the next generation of women and tech leaders.

TikTok opens doors to its moderation practices

US – Short-form video platform TikTok is building a Transparency Centre to continually improve its content moderation practices.

With media and technology companies being challenged about how they work and the type of content they sanction, TikTok US says the facility, which will open at its Los Angeles office in May, will provide an opportunity for ‘outside experts’ to view how it navigates the daily challenge of moderating the platform.

Visitors will see how TikTok’s moderators apply its company guidelines and track potential violations of the platform, as well as how users and creators can flag concerns about content and how this is handled. In turn, the Centre will operate as a forum for feedback about how TikTok operates.

‘Our landscape and industry is rapidly evolving, and we are aware that our systems, policies and practices are not flawless, which is why we are committed to constant improvement,’ writes Vanessa Pappas, general manager of TikTok US, in a statement.

By welcoming feedback in this way, TikTok is embracing imperfection and ongoing betterment, principles we will unpack in our Post-purpose Brands macrotrend, to be launched on 25 March.

TikTok, US

Stat: Retailers enter the dawn of the discreet chatbot

Retail chatbots are expected to see exponential growth in the next four years, according to a new report from Juniper Research.

The report found that consumer retail spend via chatbots will accelerate to £119bn ($142bn, €130bn) by 2024, rising from £2.4bn ($2.8bn, €2.6bn) in 2019 – an average annual growth of 400%.

While at present 48% of consumers access chatbots through messaging platforms, 80% of this spend is expected to take place via discreet chatbots in future, described as technology embedded directly into a retailer's mobile app rather than accessed through a browser or messenger.

Not only will these discreet chatbots offer retailers a more intimate purchasing experience with their customers, it will also give them more control over the development and branding of the bot.

To make the customer journey as seamless as possible, brands are increasingly experimenting with subconscious approaches to reaching consumers, using chatbots to create immersive brand touchpoints.

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