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Handy

About Máirín Duffy

Máirín is a principal interaction designer at Red Hat. She is passionate about software freedom and free & open source tools, particularly in the creative domain: her favorite application is Inkscape. You can read more from Máirín on her blog at blog.linuxgrrl.com.

Discussion

10 thoughts on “Handy

  1. If I’m not mistaken…

    …that’s a secret Masonic handshake, similar to this: http://arcanux.org

    Posted by Anonymous | August 28, 2008, 7:47 pm
    • Re: If I’m not mistaken…

      Actually, if you look carefully the finger sticking out is the pointer, not the pinky.

      It’s supposed to be a natural, normal handshake, anyway. ;-) But, I guess this is further proof that icon design is difficult, because symbols mean so many different things to different people! :) So thank you for pointing that out!

      Posted by mairin | August 29, 2008, 2:08 am
      • Re: If I’m not mistaken…

        I didn’t mean that the two handshakes were identical but that they’re both esoteric.

        In the linked example it’s pretty obvious that it’s not a normal handshake. But the handshake in your depiction would likely appear natural to most casual observers, even as its subtle abnormalities /’stick out to the those who know what to look for.

        In your handshake the brown hand is assuming an overall dominant position and the other is subordinate. Each hand’s thumb tip is pressed firmly into the soft tissue between the opposite hand’s thumb and index finger. While the brown hand is extending its index finger downward the other hand forms what’s often referred to as a “tigerpaw”. The multiple meanings involved here might vary according to order/lodge/etc., and of course esoteric handshakes aren’t limited to Masonry. Secret FSF handshakes? ;)

        So although I can’t speak as a casual observer I think your icon is more interesting than a plain handshake. ;)

        Posted by Anonymous | August 30, 2008, 7:48 am
        • Re: If I’m not mistaken…

          Ha, interesting! It’s the secret Fedora handshake, how about that? :)

          What kind of things do these handshakes mean? Do they having meaning in the form of messages, or just identification of which order someone belongs to?

          Posted by mairin | August 30, 2008, 1:32 pm
          • Re: If I’m not mistaken…

            I’m not a Mason myself but my uncle is one and my grandfather was a Master Mason who held the 32nd degree in the Scottish Rite (the “highest” being the 33rd degree). I inherited some interesting items from my grandfather when he died, including a fascinating Masonic version of the Holy Bible — but that’s another story. ;)

            From what I’ve learned the handshakes are indeed mostly used to convey one’s order or status within an order. In true esoteric fashion however there can be multiple layers of meaning for a given signal, and these deeper meanings are only taught at progressively higher degrees. The nature of these deeper meanings seem to relate to revelatory truths taught during attainment of a certain degree.

            Incidentally, as you’re Irish-American I’d be surprised if you didn’t have a near relative who was/is a Mason. ;) But don’t bother asking them about handshakes, they probably won’t talk about it…

            Posted by Anonymous | August 30, 2008, 7:04 pm
            • Re: If I’m not mistaken…

              Interesting. :) I wonder how all the secrets have been kept secret for so long!

              My family’s not far off the boat (all 4 grandparents from Ireland) – the Masons are primarily in the US aren’t they? My grandfathers were involved in Knights of Columbus when they came over here I think but I don’t think it’s the same sort of thing as Masons is it? Weren’t Irish particularly banned from the Masons?

              Posted by mairin | August 30, 2008, 7:15 pm
              • Re: If I’m not mistaken…

                Freemasonry goes back at least several centuries to Scotland (Masonic lore places its origins even further back to the building of King Solomon’s temple) and is still quite active in the UK and Ireland as well, even though American lodges hold the bulk of membership now. I doubt that any order or individual lodge ever had an overt “No Irish” or “No Catholics” membership rule, but as I understand it the Roman Catholic Church has never sanctioned membership in Freemasonry. I would venture to say that most Irish (on both sides of the pond) whom would admit being Masons to their priest are probably Protestant, but Freemasonry purports to have significant Catholic membership despite the Vatican’s positions.

                Knights of Columbus don’t have official ties to Freemasonry but they’re largely modelled after it, albeit in a manner sanctioned by the Catholic Church. Bringing this all back on point, your grandfathers probably knew a secret handshake or two. Maybe you should take a closer look at the old family album. ;)

                Posted by Anonymous | August 30, 2008, 9:10 pm
  2. I’m afraid I had to look at this about three times to figure out it was supposed to be a handshake at all. Without any wrists or sleeves, it looks a bit like a dead hand scratching around in the mud. (Also, don’t forget that images of disembodied body parts can be fairly offensive, in some cultures!)

    Posted by Anonymous | August 31, 2008, 11:27 pm
    • Are you talking about the larger size specifically, the smaller, or both? The smaller version does have wrists… maybe I should add them in the smaller? (Although if they aren’t discernable with wrists to you in the smaller version perhaps it won’t help?)

      Posted by mairin | September 2, 2008, 3:24 am
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