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jonasbn (1153)

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Perl Programmer located in Copenhagen, Denmark. Active member of Copenhagen Perl Mongers.

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Journal of jonasbn (1153)

Thursday July 10, 2008
08:28 AM

ipod+nike+, calls

[ #36886 ]

All winter I have been running with large groups of runers and I was quite amazed as to see how stupidly a group of people react to obstacles and other entities in traffic.

A good thing about runners is however that they notify each other, when encountering obstacles.

So you yell out if a bike approaches or a there is a hole in the road or something, as people get
tired the amount of warnings do however decrease, but in general it works, but the communication does have some flaws as I see it.

But runners have a lot to learn when it comes to calls (to use the term from volleyball).

I used to play volleyball and we would only utter the most necessary calls to communicate what we observed or intended to do, like take the volley from the other team, anticipate an attack or something - this system is very good and you do not have too much unnecessary communication and even with noise, sweat and exhaustion you are still able to understand what your teammates communicate.

When doing my service, and I guess this goes for all military like organizations, communication is streamlined to avoid confusion and misinterpretation, these things do happen but the protocol aims to minimize this as much as possible.

To give an example:

A team of runners are running along a path, a bicycle approaches from ahead keeping to the right as the traffic rules dictate. One of the runners spotting the bicycle yells:

Bike front to the left

If the team of runners is large enough not all will pick up the information. Some will only hear 'left' and some will only hear 'bike' aso.

To put this into context of a professional approach to the same situation, the interpretation should be quite different and the runner should have called:

Bike front keep right

This would mean that if just a bare minimum of the message get though such as 'right', people would pick up 'right' and adjust accordingly.

The optimal message would be:

keep right

Since we do not care if it is a bike coming and whether it comes from behind or from the front.

One positive thing I can say about the communication protocol among runners is that at least it is consistent.

Whether the group of runners is doing what the traffic rules say is a completely different story and often they do not and runners do not act as a swarm, they do all sorts of weird things, that might confuse others - but that is a different story.

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  • When I was in the military, we did this with hand signals. You raised your arm that was on the side of the hazard, and people behind you mimiced the sign even if they didn't know what the hazard was yet. Since everyone was trained to march, the front of the formation would just "slime" in the direction that we should keep running. In just about anything where we wanted to communicate to other soldiers, we "say it and show it" to give ourselves more of a chance of getting the message across. :)

    In cycling, we

  • ...before my daughter, that is -- I'd yell out "on your left", which seemed to be the most-used term. And when I rode in a charity event with a few thousand other cyclists a few years ago, it was a commonly accepted thing to yell out either "car up" if a car was coming in front, or "car back" (or just "car", since it was more common) if a car was coming from the rear. I thought it was a good example of protocol compression :-)