It takes a scanner to appreciate a non-scanner

Uncategorized 2 Comments

It takes a scanner to appreciate a non-scanner (or, “Why I went looking for the best water-skier in Luxembourg”)

A guest blog post by sociologist and writer, Keith Kahn-Harris

Best water skier in LuxembourgAs soon as I came across the term Scanner I felt enormous relief. Here at last was a way of describing who I was: curious about everything, always exploring new projects and new ideas, never settling permanently for one life direction. Over the last few years in particular I’ve felt buoyed aloft by the incredible range of creative possibilities inherent in our ever-more networked world.

Despite being a scanner, the focus of what I do has often been on people who aren’t scanners. As a sociologist I am interested in communities, scenes and subcultures. I am fascinated by the incredible single-minded dedication that their members show to their cause or passion. In my work on extreme heavy metal music scenes and on the British Jewish community , I have examined what it means to be a member of something, what it is to join in. And I have joined in myself – as both a Jew and a metalhead, these scenes and communities are part of my world.

Not everyone in the communities and scenes I’ve researched and written about are non-scanners. There are plenty of Jews who flit in and out of Jewish communal involvement; there are plenty of metallers who are also something else. But the non-scanners (or ‘Divers’ as Barbara Sher terms them) are essential to the mix. Jewish communities would be nothing without those who attend synagogue week after week. Metal music scenes would be nothing without underground bands who toil in obscurity for years.

My latest project is a tribute to such unsung heroes. The book I am working on, The Best Water Skier in Luxembourg: Tales of Big Fish in Small Ponds, may sound like a joke, but it has a serious purpose. I set myself the challenge of choosing some small worlds, semi-randomly, and going to meet the key people in them. Last December I travelled to Luxembourg and met the best water skiers in the country. On a small strip of the Moselle river bordering Germany, the 7 Luxembourgoise water ski clubs attract a small but fanatical following.

In the coming months I hope to meet other big fish in small ponds: the most powerful politician on Alderney, Malta’s favourite soft drink, the  Icelandic special forces, the top novelist in Suriname and the best heavy metal band in Botswana.

The project came about in a very scannerish way: I used to joke that while I was a top sociologist of Anglo-Jewry and of heavy metal, there was little ‘competition’, so I was like the best water skier in Luxembourg. In spring 2011 the idea leapt into my head – let’s go and meet the best water skier in Luxembourg! I quickly realised that the Luxembourg water ski scene could be part of a book about big fish in small ponds.

To my surprise, I managed to convince the lovely people at Unbound, the recently launched crowd-funded publishing company for books, to take on the project. Within a few months I’d funded the Luxembourg chapter and now I am raising funds for the rest of the book. Apologies for the plug but I need your support!

Perhaps the wider lesson of the book, from the research I have done so far, is that you can find heroic, committed individuals almost anywhere – pick a small world at random (as I have done) and you will find them. Their mulish stubbornness and their loyalty to a single cause is what gives solidity to the overlapping worlds that constitutes the bigger world.

But you also need scanners too. Those of us who can never quite settle for one small world, one activity, are able to translate non-scanners experiences outside the communities and scenes of which they are a part. I suppose my life’s work – if you can call the disparate projects I’ve worked on a life’s work – is to be this kind of translator.

And maybe there’s a hint of envy in this work. The life of a scanner is exciting, but it’s also bewildering, lonely and insecure sometimes. Part of me wants to have the security that comes with monomaniacal commitment. I guess then, there’s always going to be a certain amount of yearning in my work for those who dedicate their lives to one small world.

Keith Kahn HarrisKeith Kahn-Harris is a sociologist and writer. His website is
You can support The Best Water Skier in Luxembourg at Unbound

Finding it difficult to get your stuff done?

Creativity, Productivity, Scanner Nights, Uncategorized 7 Comments

This little video about procrastination (brought to my attention by Jenny Jameson of Zero Gravity Life) made me laugh.

See if it rings a bell with you.

Do you recognise similar experiences of finding your day has disappeared before you’ve got started on what really matters?

Then join us at July Scanners Night when we’ll be discovering from Mark Walsh how to go Beyond Time Management and get the right things done, not just lots of ‘stuff’.


How to have a satisfying & rewarding life as a scanner

Uncategorized 7 Comments

Nick Williams is best-selling author of The Work We Were Born To Do and co-founder of The Inspired Entrepreneur Community.

Recently Nick and I have been having a series of conversations about work, entrepreneurship and creating a fulfilling life which Nick has made available as short videos.

Join Nick and I on my sofa as I explain what a scanner is, how we work best, how we find success and fulfilment, and what types of careers and businesses suit us best.

If what I’m talking about sounds familiar to you, you don’t have to be alone anymore!

Come along to Scanners Night in London tonight and meet 40-50 people just like you – network, get new ideas, and learn how to conquer the email overwhelm so many of us Scanners suffer from:


The Big Love Experiment

Uncategorized Comments Off on The Big Love Experiment

One of my mentors, Suzy Greaves, has today launched her Big Love Experiment. As she explains it,

I’m Suzy Greaves and at 41, after 16 years of marriage, I’ve split up with my husband. With new figures showing that one in every two marriages fails – I’m not alone.

I’m part of a new army of people looking for love. The Big Love Experiment is a journey – over a 52 week period – to find it.

The Big Love Experiment is for anyone who believes that love is the answer, that all you need is love, that love is all around us, if only we could find it.

Over the next 52 weeks, I will be interviewing love gurus and experts, scientists and people who have loving long-term relationships – and with their help designing weekly exercises for us to embark on a journey together via my online community to help us discover –  is love really the answer? And if it is – how and where do we find it?

I’m a big fan of time-limited experiments because they’re ideal for scanners. Suzy will be immersed in this experiment for a year, learning from top gurus for herself and sharing what she discovers with the participants. And she might well produce a book out of it as she did for her Big Peace project. Once she’s finished she can reap the rewards of having something to show for it that furthers her business – and she is free move on to the next experiment.

Read about Suzy’s Big Love Experiment here

So what’s Scanners Night like?

Uncategorized Comments Off on So what’s Scanners Night like?

If you’ve never been to Scanners Night before, this photo collage of last year’s events should give you a feel for what goes on.

Don’t miss January Scanners Night: How to have your best Scanner year yet

Laurence Shorter – The search for the good life

Uncategorized 2 Comments

At November Scanners Night, Laurence Shorter shared his fascinating and funny journey around the world to find the secrets of optimism for his book The Optimist: One Man’s Search for the Brighter Side of Life.

You can listen to his talk now – just click the play button below.

Want to write a story as compelling as Laurence’s that might win you a book deal?

There are just 2 places left for tomorrow’s “Find your story” – read more here

Searching for the brighter side of life

Uncategorized Comments Off on Searching for the brighter side of life

Watch standup comic, entrepreneur and author Laurence Shorter in a fascinating and funny interview on Canadian TV talking about his mission to discover the secrets to the brighter side of life for his book “The Optimist”.

(Love the story of how he flew all the way to South Africa to interview Desmond Tutu and then got into an argument with him!)

Laurence will be talking at Scanners Night this month about what he learned on his quest to meet some of the world’s greatest optimists from Richard Branson to Mick Jagger to the surfing Rabbi.

He will also share what he has learned as a Scanner in his search for the perfect career and his own version of the good life.

Book your ticket now

The power of a great story

Uncategorized Comments Off on The power of a great story

Ever tried to communicate your excitement about something to other people and been met by blank stares? This is bad news if what you’re talking about is the business, project, or book idea you’re trying to launch.

Being able to tell a great story about your current project is a powerful thing.

Here’s a very dramatic (and funny) one minute video that I think will show just how powerful a great story can be – particularly when you find yourself in a spot of bother:

In November, we are running a special one day workshop called “Find your story” with professional bard Sarah de Nordwall. If you’d like to find the killer story in your project, business, or book, click the link below.

Limited spaces available on “Find Your Story” workshop – read more

Turn your idea into income

Uncategorized Comments Off on Turn your idea into income

Have you got a good idea you’d like to make happen and perhaps even make some money out of?
Have you already launched your grand idea but not quite got the result you wanted?
Have you turned your idea into a business but want to find a way to make more money out of it?

Scanners Night this Wednesday is The Ideas Lab

It’s a virtual meeting on a teleconference line and it’s going to be a lot of fun. We’ll cover as many people’s ideas as we can in the time and for each one, I’ll give my best tips for making the idea fly and also ask everyone else for helpful contacts and advice. If you’ve never experienced a Scanner brainstorm before, you’re in for a treat.

What’s your idea?

  • Want to write a book and win a great book deal?
  • Want to be a professional blogger?
  • Want to launch a killer website?
  • Want to get yourself, your business, or your music on the radio?
  • Want to turn your expertise into highly paid consultancy?
  • Want to add some ‘passive income’ to your current business?
  • Want to start a live event but don’t know how to get people to come along?
  • Want to build a following on twitter without resorting to tacky tricks?
  • Want to know how to double the number of people who know about your business/band/artwork/invention/book?

I’ve had experience of making all these ideas happen and with the help of everyone else on the call, you will be amazed at the connections we will make.

Come to The Ideas Lab and get your idea supercharged

Or just come along and help others.
All for just £10!

Read how it works and book your seat now

Social Media, Memes and Mashups

Uncategorized Comments Off on Social Media, Memes and Mashups

At July Scanners Night blogger, designer and creative thinker San Sharma showed us how to use Social Media to make a splash, build a tribe, and supercharge your scanner projects.

You can listen to San’s entire talk for free right now – just click the play button below.

Follow along with San’s slides

Go to (opens in a new window) and click the link on the front page under “Free Download…” to open his slides so you can follow along with the audio.

Photos of Scanners Night

If you’ve never been to Scanners Night, click here to see what one looks like (opens in a new window).

To book for the next Scanners Night, click here.

« Previous Entries