WHAT IS A SCANNER?

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WHAT IS A SCANNER?

Postby BarbaraSher » Mon Aug 21, 2006 9:35 am

Some people have found this site and asked for a description of more than a few words. I think they're right, but I'm too busy getting the Scanner Planner Kit ready for the retreats to do anything right now.

How about each of you coming on and telling what you think a Scanner is? That would be easier for me and way more interesting to us all.

(If you've seen a good description on the barbarasher.com site, copy and paste it here).
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Postby forestgirl » Thu Aug 24, 2006 4:01 pm

I've been a bit nervous about posting here because I don't really feel qualified to comment. Yet I am really interested to hear what people say about this. I think maybe others are reluctant to be the first too, so I will throw in my two cents and \"take one for the team\". If I say something silly, please be kind...

I don't know that I can give a concise, all-encompassing definition of what a scanner is. I can, however, define what it means to me.

A scanner is a person with multiple interests and abilities who not only does not feel called to spend a lifetime doing any one of them, but can not imagine doing so.

That is, I don't think that everyone with more than one interest is a scanner. Nor do I think that becoming very focused or obsessed on a single thing makes someone not a scanner. What sets a scanner apart is the ephemeral nature of his or her passions.

For a diver the lights of passion may flicker, but are relatively constant and long lasting. For a scanner they burn bright and short, living just long enough to light the next passion before fading from view.

That's all I've got for now, though I may pipe in later.
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Postby BarbaraSher » Thu Aug 24, 2006 6:49 pm

Thank you. What a great description. It makes me love Scanners even more than before.
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Postby BarbaraSher » Thu Aug 24, 2006 6:49 pm

And thanks for answering! The silence was becoming deafening.
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Postby Scenario Thinker » Sat Aug 26, 2006 9:25 am

I've always thought of scanning and diving as being on a continuum. The only difference is the timing, a pure scanner jumps from project to project or interest (or multiple at once) at a more frequent time period than a pure diver, who may stay in a subject for a lifetime. The common denominator though, is that they both love to learn ... I just saw something in Psychology Today calling certain people \"The Curious\".
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Postby BarbaraSher » Sun Aug 27, 2006 10:42 am

It gets complex. You have specialists who take a sudden turn into 'hit and run obssessions' that seem completely unrelated to their specialty and can't rest until they've learned all they want to know. And then they return to their professions of a lifetime.

The 'Serial Specialist' is a Scanner who can stay with a field for 5 years or even more, and then move to a completely different, unrelated one for another number of year. The only thing the different fields might have in common is that they represent 'new worlds' to the Scanner. Or, if you're a writer or a film-maker, your medium can be the only thing that ties your 4 or 5 year interests to each other.

But extending the duration of the Serial Specialists interests doesn't make her a specialist or a Diver. A Diver seems to be someone who finds everything they need in one field, and even in one specific part of that field. No matter how long their duration, Scanners never feel that way.

And then there's the issue of 'Cyclical Scanners' like me, who want to return to every interest over and over (for different durations) as opposed to 'Sequential Scanners' who, when they're finished with something, really are finished.
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Postby BarbaraSher » Sun Aug 27, 2006 11:18 am

You also get specialists who don't really love to learn, not the way a Scanner would mean the term. There are those who are content to put in their time, and don't seem to mind: many doctors, lawyers, jockeys, pattern makers, gardeners, electricians, accountants, etc. Even really good musicians are often sufficiently in love with the music they hear that they don't want to learn something new, they only want to play it better. They want to master what they're doing. An athlete is interested in learning only what they need to maximize performance. And a 'Serial Master' is in my list of Scanner types, but I feel he is a very unusual kind of Scanner--and a very unusual kind of master, too.

You might even say that a scientist, the most like Scanners in childlike enthusiasm and curiosity, is really seeking to understand what makes something tick, and isn't really in love with learning new things for the joy of it.

I think there's more going on than a continuum.
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Postby Britta » Sun Aug 27, 2006 1:28 pm

Hi everyone,
for me a scanner has multiple interests and my picture is NOT a straight path but more like a zigzag line going from interest to interest. Each interest being mainstream.
A diver on the other hand has a straight line with some interests on the side. The main interest doesn't change and the side interests never get in the main way.
Hope that makes sense.
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Postby Scenario Thinker » Sun Aug 27, 2006 2:21 pm

BarbaraSher wrote:I think there's more going on than a continuum.

Maybe I've always thought of a diver as an extreme scanner (like a serial master, plus ... or actually minus the frequency), but I've never thought of a diver as a "non-curious". In other words, a diver loves to learn, maybe in more of a narrow scope, but they're not like someone who isn't curious like in some of the fields like you mentioned where they just do what's needed. So, for a scientist, he/she may not be a scanner, but as a diver he/she loves to learn and explore, much like a scanner, but more narrow.

Now, if a diver is more of a person that "does what's necessary" or "puts in their time" (is that what you're saying?), then maybe they're not even related (except for being the opposite). But, that's just my interpretation from your writing. Do you think you'll ever write more about divers?

Yes, I agree it is complex and the continuum probably isn't smooth, if it exists at all :)
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Postby BarbaraSher » Sun Aug 27, 2006 9:24 pm

Scenario Thinker wrote:
BarbaraSher wrote:I think there's more going on than a continuum.

Maybe I've always thought of a diver as an extreme scanner (like a serial master, plus ... or actually minus the frequency), but I've never thought of a diver as a "non-curious". In other words, a diver loves to learn, maybe in more of a narrow scope, but they're not like someone who isn't curious like in some of the fields like you mentioned where they just do what's needed. So, for a scientist, he/she may not be a scanner, but as a diver he/she loves to learn and explore, much like a scanner, but more narrow.

Now, if a diver is more of a person that "does what's necessary" or "puts in their time" (is that what you're saying?), then maybe they're not even related (except for being the opposite). But, that's just my interpretation from your writing. Do you think you'll ever write more about divers?

Yes, I agree it is complex and the continuum probably isn't smooth, if it exists at all :)


"Do you think you'll ever write more about divers?"

If I did, it would only be in contrast to Scanners, and I'd have to figure out what to ask them. I can't imagine anyone has ever interviewed a specialist to find out why he was interested in only one field. :)

And I don't mean to imply that all Divers are just putting in their time. Some are focused on mastery, as I mentioned. Scientists, who strike me as being just as childlike in their curiosity as Scanners, are certainly not simply putting in their time; nor are mathematicians or artists. They are passionate explorers, looking for answers. I believe the best artists (and poets) love the process of learning and are drawn to their work because of it. All the same, many artists are pure Divers, and they stick with their medium faithfully.

You'll find Scanners who love lots of different crafts but that alone doesn't make them Scanners, no matter how different the crafts may seem from one another. Crafts have many things in common and I think it's fair to see them as one medium. (Incidentally, the reason many Scanners (and other crafters) don't finish things is kind of obvious but never occurred to me until recently: once the creative part is over, the rest is repetitive and to a curious or creative person, rote is tiresome. Many craftspeople say they dislike the repetitive part of their work and prefer to do original work.) But when these craftspeople are equally passionate about history and filmmaking and technology and science, they're Scanners.
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Postby Scenario Thinker » Mon Aug 28, 2006 3:17 am

BarbaraSher wrote:I can't imagine anyone has ever interviewed a specialist to find out why he was interested in only one field. :)

I think it would be interesting to find out why people gravitated to one field. Like the gorilla lady that ended up working in the zoo.

Did they just pick it? What were the sequence of events that lead them to get into that field and find it satisfying? Were they born into it, or did they rebel and do it against the family wishes? What drives them to continue in the one field? Is there some goal that they're working toward? They can't think of anything else? They've just always done it? Why do they think they don't gravitate to other interests?

Anyhow, like you said, it might be interesting to see the contrast from scanners. As always thanks for your perspective.
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Postby BarbaraSher » Mon Aug 28, 2006 7:45 am

The story of how someone found their one passion is always interesting, of course. We even have some topics about it here on this board from last year. I can't remember what they're called.

But trying to find out why someone has a passion for only one thing can't have been anything that was studied because it's considered normal: find the one right thing and you'll always be happy. You're supposed to find it. If you haven't found it yet, keep trying.

Why only one? Not an askable question until Scanners are made legitimate, because they've always been considered flawed or shallow, afraid of hard work, easily distracted, etc. etc. They deviated from what was considered normal and ideal.

That's why I'm pretty sure no one asked that question of divers yet, and I can't imagine how they'd answer it. \"Why am I passionate about only one thing? Uh, I don't know.\"

So that can't be a question Divers get asked. And I can't imagine how they'd answer it. I believe gifts are genetic, like eye color.

Even Scanners can't tell you why something interests them, and I'm never really looking for that (except to find if all the interests have something in common).
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Postby Beecharmer » Mon Aug 28, 2006 10:30 am

You'll find Scanners who love lots of different crafts but that alone doesn't make them Scanners, no matter how different the crafts may seem from one another. Crafts have many things in common and I think it's fair to see them as one medium. (Incidentally, the reason many Scanners (and other crafters) don't finish things is kind of obvious but never occurred to me until recently: once the creative part is over, the rest is repetitive and to a curious or creative person, rote is tiresome. Many craftspeople say they dislike the repetitive part of their work and prefer to do original work.) But when these craftspeople are equally passionate about history and filmmaking and technology and science, they're Scanners.


Now I am confused - I work and scan mainly in art related fields such as painting, printing, writing, web developing, business ideas etc (except for some other minor hobbies of mine) does this mean that I'm not a scanner after all?
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Postby BarbaraSher » Mon Aug 28, 2006 11:00 am

Of course you're a Scanner. But Matisse and Cezanne weren't. That's what I meant.

You're an 'art-oriented' Scanner. There are Scanners who are animal oriented or tech oriented or nature oriented. (Check out Howard Gardners 8 'Intelligences' for a nice range of what I'm calling orientations), and there are Scanners with two, three or more of these orientations.

Frank Lloyd Wright stayed in architecture. Aristotle didn't stay anywhere. Leonardo da Vinci wasn't like Cezanne. He had too many interests beside painting. Edison dedicated his life to experiments that produced his inventions in light, sound and other areas but Ben Franklin, also a first-rate inventor, was all over the map. He not only had many other interests (publishing, writing, politics) but 'invented' things Edison never thought about, like fire departments, libraries, and mutual-assistance organizations for beginning businessmen.

Clearer?
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Postby Beecharmer » Mon Aug 28, 2006 11:42 am

Puh!
I was worried there for a minute - I have been so happy after I allowed myself to be an art scanner and actively build my career as such :D The thought of returning to my former very limiting quest for \"the one right path\" made me a tad bit nauseous.
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