The Dawn of a New Era: A Rise in the Creator Culture

10 February 2020

By Mahmood Qannati, Chief Corporate Communications & Marketing Officer, BisB

qannatiI remember working in Dubai like it was yesterday. On any given day, the passage of time felt like something synchronised to the Rimsky-Korsakov’s orchestral piece ‘Flight of the Bumblebee’. Work moved at lightning speed, and yet, I managed to adjust to the new pace of working, and learned the art of multi-tasking, maintaining calm focus in the centre of the storm of work.

Today, I work at Bahrain Islamic Bank, and although Bahrain is known for its Island – paced life, work has been ridiculously busy - and I love every minute of it. Mostly because of the culture of innovation we’ve created from within, it’s about more focused work – as opposed to multi-tasking – and we are always encouraged to think differently and to create something new.

Outside the walls of my office on the 4th floor, I can see the cars racing along the Manama highway. And I’m aware, that the attention of the average person is more divided that ever before. We’re distracted by our smart phones, bombarded by targeted ads, news stories, WhatsApp Group conversations (and sub-groups) – which continually force us to multi-task and spread our ability to focus even thinner.

The fact is, there is a dark side to multi-tasking, to checking every notification that pops up, to keeping up with every news story, Instagram story and Tweet. Besides the fact that it leads to a false sense of productivity, tricking our brain into thinking we’ve actually accomplished a bigger ‘to-do’ list of tasks - it saps our creativity, energy, and attention. It stands to reason then, that in the age of information, gaining our attention is more difficult than it ever used to be.

And yet, when someone comes up with a truly novel idea, or develops a never-before-seen innovative product that inspires us, or makes us pause if only for a second, or perhaps share it with a friend, technology reveals the other edge of its sword. In fact, a large number of products have been created because of the ability to gain investors, or gain collaborators.

From an industry point of view, that ability to capture your attention is more precious than ever before. This goes beyond the marketing industry I’ve worked in, essentially anyone who is selling any product. Industry players are fighting for that attention, and the competition out there is fierce.

Unwittingly, the war for attention fought between corporate giants might have paved the way to a bigger movement. A movement of makers, creators and industry shakers that have risen up from a subculture of change-makers, a global community which is inspired to change the way in which we process information, build products, and how we use the objects we create. They have placed stepping stones and building blocks, challenging how we address the global problems we face today. They have already grown from their grassroots of innovation and sprung up to create the Teslas, the AI empowered tools, which have given us newfound abilities and accessibility more than ever before. These makers have created start-ups, creating thriving ecosystems that have been made possible because of our ability to communicate, and to collaborate with another builder or creator across the world.

Perhaps the rise in this creator culture boils down to our shared spirit of human curiosity. The need to create, after all, is embedded within each of us. We are still creating today, and always have been, starting way back in the Stone Age, where our early human ancestors first created tools, to when humanity finally learned to cultivate the lands we settled on, all the way through the Industrial Age and to the Information Age. Because at the heart of humanity lies the desire to create, and exchange knowledge, which has laid the foundation of our collective intelligence in the age of information.

There has never been a better time to be alive.

To me, we’re at the cusp of something new. We’re no longer in the Age of Information, we’ve lived through it. We have already gathered the knowledge, had open conversations, collaborated to create, and shared our stories with the world. Empowered by the technology in the Age of Information, we have paved the way for a new movement, the dawn of a new era – the era of Collective Action.

The story of a rebellious teenager with strong opinions is a familiar story – to myself as a parent - a cautionary tale of which I’m sure I will face soon - and to every parent of every generation in each corner across the globe.

But there’s a new story that’s recently unfolded. A story of a young 16-year old girl bursting with energy and strong-minded opinions, who started out with a single protest in Stockholm, which led to a ripple effect movement of youth across the globe who joined in solidarity, and led to her having conversations with Presidents, to her speaking before a room of dignitaries on behalf of a planet we all share, and eventually led to her gracing the cover of Time Magazine as the youngest TIME Person of the Year, in 2019.

We’re still at the start of 2020. What are you doing to make history? What are you doing to create positive change?