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4M: Technology, Society, and the value of Communities



Green Steps

Short summary:

Over five months, from June to October, Green Steps Shanghai run a film program about technology and society. But it was specially memorable for us because it is also the first public course running on our new platform. The Ark.


Monkey, Man, Machine, Movies. These are the 4 Ms behind the film program hosted by Agora Space, organized by Green Steps, and completed in the last week of October. Why? Because the declared topic is investigating the impact of technology on society, and designing this program was itself a journey through the evolution of humanity.

The Monkey represents the natural starting point of human evolution, Machine represents the future we craft, our artificial potential. The Man is in the middle and, of course, the Movie is how we investigate this evolution. Society is the way men organize themselves to live together: how much of it comes from our nature and how much is, instead, affected by innovation and developments?

 The 20 movies in the film program allowed us to explore the meaning and end of technology from several different angles. Do technology and innovation shape humanity for better or for worse? The program claimed to find an answer to what appropriate technology can do to make the world a better place.

Does history always go in the right direction? Probably not, but at the same time how can we decide what the right direction would have been? Do contemporary crises put us in the position to question even the highest human achievements?
The point of the program was never to give an ultimate answer, but to find out how deep we need to go when we do not accept an easy one.

That’s why sustainability has been very present in our discussions - and for Green Steps it could have not been different. Dystopian visions from sci-fi movies almost inevitably involve how optimization of our intellect will find (or not) a solution to the environmental crisis: for us this is the angle to turn a spotlight on, more than the others. We did that with a moderation focused as much as possible on the discussion with the audience and using short videos - mostly TED Talks - to highlight a specific topic before starting the screening itself.

Building a loyal audience was one of the takeaways from this experience. Quite often we got to similar immediate outcomes. One of the most common was: “technology is not good or bad, it is just about how humans develop and use it”. Without a recurring appointment, we would have never had the chance to develop the discussion and go deeper and deeper with our analysis, exploring the different angles exposed by these works.

This is why, in fact, this program was very important for Green Steps. How can technology make the world a better place? We are looking for our way to give a contribution. Social Media and the co-dependency we developed with smartphones have been also inevitably present in our discussions.

The Ark, the platform for environmental education Green Steps is developing, aims to make good use of that link we recognized as problematic and even wicked. We want to use that trigger to stimulate children, and people in general, to go outdoor, gather as communities, and learn.

4M was the very first course we had on the Ark. All the people who have joined at least one session, had to register to our platform. This was not just a movie screening: the more you enjoyed the vision and the discussion, the more chances you had to go in-depth into the topic. If you decided to do that instead of watching the same movie by yourself, that means that you give value to the community, and for the time you invested in that, you got some credits assigned.

  Green Steps is a young start-up. Having this weekly appointment was also a great chance for some of us to strengthen human connections and to share their common passion for movies. Our moderation was less of a lesson and way more of a sharing and receiving moment: all who contributed put a little bit of themselves in it.

We hope you enjoyed joining the course at least as much as we enjoyed running it: if you have not left it already, we would be glad to get your personal feedback on this 4M season: please click on the link or scan the QR code hereafter and fill in the form. See you for the next course!

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