So, imagine you are walking to work and you pass through the lobby of your local federal building to your government job. While you walk through, someone is playing the violin. Do you keep going? Drop a dollar or two? Pay a little attention? Would it matter if the violinist is exceptional? What about the best in the world?
This experiment is basically what happens for this Washington Post Article.
Its a long article, but interesting. I'll summarize:
Basically, the Washington Post brought in a world-class violinist with a 3.5 million dollar Stradivarius (wiki connections here and here). He set up in non-descript clothes as if playing for tips. But the man wailed for some 43 minutes playing classical, heart-felt music and did not receive the response the testers were hoping for. Most people (they recorded the show to guage interest from passers-by) didn't pay him any attention. Which makes you wonder - why didn't he receive more attention?
Few things I take away from this:
- We are too busy. Duh, right? How much do we have to miss before we can admit this.
- People don't like violin music anymore. Well, to be specific, most people do not have the trained ear to listen to stringed music (Malcolm Gladwell offers an interesting thought on this in his book, Blink). But really, music is one of the most universal human experiences we can all relate to right? Shouldn't our love of music encourage an appreciation of quality?
- And lastly, the more society attempts to steer us into particular places to buy particular products and take particular advantage of us, the more we will develop walls to block such influence out.
What do you think? Why were people not more attentive?