An Atlas of Hands

As I expected when I started this Atlas of Makers: people who make things really value their hands. Not very surprising.
Hands are so obvious for people who make things, many of the people I portayed hardly even mentioned them.

Making things

People use their hands to make things. Physical things like Diek, Joke, Maarten, and Kiki. They use them for writing and drawing like Astrid, Diek, and Marrije. They use them for typing, like almost everybody. For making music, for looking things up in books, for making digital things.

Part of their brain

Using their hands is so obvious, people like Astrid and Dave consider their hands to be part of their brain. Irene also called her hands a mediator between her brain and her computer. I think more people might see them this way. For a cook like Stefanos his hands are a part of his lizard brain. Which is probably not accurate, but it does sound so cool.

Forms of communication

For some people their hands are an essential part of communication. Marie is Deaf, which means her first language is Dutch Sign Language. She needs her hands to communicate. Her colleagues Marrije, Robert Jan, and Willemijn are learning sign language as well. For Robert Jan this is a bit harder since his hands go in all directions enthousiastically while he speaks.


Of course nobody want to miss their hands. Only Titus and Vasilis mentioned the option of dictating. They can imagine that in a near future they could dictate their work to a computer instead of typing their code. It’s not necessarily something they look forward to.

Conclusions and questions

It’s quite obvious. People who make things value their hands. And they use them for various essential activities.


How do people who can’t use their hands get around. How do they make things, how do they use things? What can we learn from them?