Friday, September 24, 2010

Left hand right hand...

I must admit that I'm usually rather observant. I like to see and register things and then wonder why they are as they are. I'm also pretty evenly ambidextrous and that gives me another view to some things. There are millions of details in the world that are carefully thought of, we just don't notice them very often. But that's exactly what makes it curious. This is what I was thinking about today.

Things for right-handed people

All of the things in this pic were made for right-handed people! As left-handed, you can use them with almost perfect ease, but you won't get the full user experience as it was meant by the person who designed them. A pen? Yes, I write with my left hand and I sometimes change the pen to my right hand just to see the text on the side of the pen right side up for once. The scissors are tricky and I'm happy that I'm right-handed in this skill! Left-handed scissors are not always easy to find, because the blades need to be mirrored so that people using their left hand while cutting can actually see what they are cutting. Those scissors look ok to be used for both hands, but that's not the case. The spatula is also for right-handed if you want to use it right side out. Otherwise the edge is pointing away from the pan. Books, magazines, cd and dvd covers... Whoever invented the idea of opening things from right to left might not have thought about it, but he was definitely right-handed. If I browse through magazines I need to start from the back and flip the pages from back to start because I use my left hand for this. And admit it, when you are reading a book, it's easier to turn the pages with your right hand. (This of course raises the question about e.g. Asian way with the books.)

And then comes the idea of clockwise vs. counterclockwise. I would say that for left-handed it's easier to turn things counterclockwise when right-handed people find it more natural in clockwise direction. (This must have to do with how far can you turn your hand in which direction and with what strenght.) That's why e.g. pencil sharpeners work only with clockwise turn as well as pointers in clocks (and pretty much all knobs in the world anyway). Lids and screws are originally designed so that for right-handed people they are easier to close than to open - that's their priority funcion anyway, to keep things tight and from escaping. (And since I tend to use my left hand in this I really find it easier to open things than to close them ranging from certain wine bottles to jam and stuff. But not to screws, screwdriver I use with my right hand!)

All of this I find extremely interesting! And it's everywhere. Today, I noticed a particular oddity in our kitchen. But after a bit of thinking it wasn't that odd anymore, only another proof how well things are designed - for right-handed people.

More things for right-handed people
Why are there two knobs where the numbers are running clockwise and two where they are running counterclockwise?

Great design. First, the stove plate that is used the most is located right and front on the stove top. It's knob is right-hand side in the panel. That stove is always small, mostly for boiling things in water. You need to get it hot fast, so the highest temperature you reach easily by turning the knob once clockwise with your right hand. The same applies to the other small stove plate. The bigger ones are rarely used to boil water. They are more likely for stewing in lower temperatures. So no need for extreme heat but more variety for lower levels. You reach these again easily by turning the knob clockwise with your right hand...

These things are great to spot and lots of fun to think through. I never get bored of thinking how the world works and why things are like they are. Breaking one's own habits is often quite a lot of fun. Yes, I can write with my right hand, too. :)

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