What do you think of when you think of data? I bet the stock market or economic health indicators come to mind easily. What about the data that exists behind or is continuously manifesting itself in what you see or hear throughout your everyday experience? I hope to slowly redefine your thinking in ways small and large in a series of posts to navigate your mind down data-tangents, so to speak. I hope that when you are charmed by a Parisian-like rain, or are made gleeful by a new gadget and the possibilities it offers, that you truly savor the moment. But I also hope that you wonder, even if just for a fleeting moment, about the playful numbers that dance behind it, quietly telling the tale of a different, grander story.
Today I muse about the street musicians who infuse the air of our urban landscape. I work and live above a busy street whose bustle is noisy with the chatter and quick pace of people – some in a hurry to conquer their agendas and others idly passing the day away with slow sips and warm coffee. A soft blue blanket of music cloaks them all; each day envelops them in a different hue of sound.
Last week I took note of the level of delight the day’s street musician brought me, on a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 denoting the highest level of delight. Monday and Tuesday’s musicians’ notes still play in the distant hallways of my mind (rated 9 and 8, respectively), while the rest blur away.
As the music moved into and out of focus of my consciousness throughout the week, I casually wondered about what brought them to the streets below, bellowing their music as a kind public gesture. My thoughts moved onto us, the spectators, who vote approval and appreciation by way of our change into their makeshift donation repositories. Of course, whether you contribute, and how much you contribute is a byproduct of so many factors (personal taste, personal financial situation). But how often do we actually give change? A Polls Boutique poll asked its members if they tipped street musicians. Of those surveyed a majority (62% of those polled) do.
In looking at this poll as a microcosm of our human exchange, music brings us closer and our small donations show our thanks. Street musicians implicitly and explicitly build momentary communities in an urban environment that sometimes inherently means we move about, keeping to ourselves. But for a few notes, before we part ways and the sound is too far in the distance to be distinguishable, we’re all united by the same melody. Data tells me so.