Tips For Your Next Geeky Adventure

How to Walk in Crowded Con Space

In her book titled On Looking: Eleven Walks with Expert Eyes, Alexandira Horowitz describes the art of walking in very crowded spaces.  She focused on crowded sidewalks in cities, but this is very applicable to walking in very crowded convention spaces too.  The wonderful thing about this is that it is based on actual research too.  It all boils down to three key ideas…avoidance, alignment, and attraction.


Funnily enough, I naturally did some of this when I was in San Diego this summer.

Yup, I am a natural.

  1. Avoid bumping into others (while staying comfortably close). What counts as “comfortably close” — an animal’s “personal” space — will vary by species; what is similar for all animals is that if you follow only this one rule, it forces you to attend and react to the behavior of those in your vicinity. And that is the essence of what is called swarm intelligence: everyone must make movements that are sensitive to everyone else.
  2. Follow whoever is in front of you. “Whoever” need not know where she is going: she may herself be following another. And so on and so on, until you reach the very head of the pack. Even there, the animal at the leading edge is neither leader nor sovereign. In flocks and schools, the role of leader is constantly changing hands. For only a moment will she determine the group’s direction.
  3. Keep up with those next to you. Everyone must speed or slow with attention to those around them. This seems like an impossible calculation, until you realize how little effort you have to pay to walk next to someone else down the street, never once considering how you will be able to keep at the same pace.

How do you get around the crazy crowded spaces of cons?


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