Every day, we encounter a dizzying array of disparate stimuli. We interact with a wide array of information as we live our lives, whether it be the sensation that the afternoon air is getting more humid before a sudden storm or a text message from a friend or a video presentation on a new policy at work. We are used to navigating and shifting gears to operate on different planes of existence throughout the day but sometimes don’t fully appreciate the storytelling skills that help us make sense of what really is a amalgamation of sensations and experiences and data.
Researchers who consider the everyday lives we lead also have an ocean of stimuli to contemplate. Their choices as to where to dip in a ladle to sample data reflect values, public discourse, and even happenstance sometimes. Deciding what to bring to our listeners each week from the world of research on the human condition also reflects many different considerations and the result can be a fun and sometimes bewildering shift from episode to episode. Underpinning all of our shows, though, is the effort to better understand how humans operate in the world, individually and together. That understanding can bring comfort and critique and sometimes can point the way to possible improvements in society.
We recently had the chance to interview an author from Duke University about his book on music and collaboration. Given that our home is WNCU (where #JazzMatters), we were happy to have the excuse to talk about Duke Ellington on the show, but beyond the opportunity to play Black and Tan Fantasy during an episode we also had the chance to consider the social life of Ellington and his collaborators. How and why we have come to understand Duke Ellington as a singular artist rather than also as a brilliant organizer itself is a fascinating topic, and the chance to try to connect the dots between music criticism and organizational research was also compelling.
Almost every scene involving other human beings that you will encounter in the next 24 hours could be the subject of rigorous research that could be published in books and articles like the ones we often discuss on the show. The act of being curious about such scenes, though, the act of just noticing, is something we all can do. Noticing more and assuming less might help us all find our way, whether to Harlem or to somewhere else we hope to go.