“Good design is honest.” So reads number six of the Ten Principles of Good Design, as carried down the mountain by revered industrial designer Dieter Rams. But it’s a principle that software designers seem to disregard, especially with one innocuous-looking feature of our digital lives: the progress bar. Downloading, uploading, buffering, processing, progressing—this is the terrain of the progress bar, a symbol that an action is underway and we are at some quantifiable distance from its completion. We might encounter these glyphs when “standing” in a virtual queue, or filling out an online questionnaire. On a small scale, they cater to two very human impulses: to imagine a goal, and then to accomplish that goal. It’s why people love crossing items off to-do lists or clearing a This story is from Kinfolk Issue Thirty-six Buy Now Related Stories Arts & Culture Issue 38 Ghosts in the Machine How to die online. Arts & Culture Issue 33 A Fine Line The case for queueing. Arts & Culture Issue 42 Anna Wiener Anna Wiener was on the path to Silicon Valley success. Then she pivoted. Allyssia Alleyne charts the making of a tech-skeptic. Arts & Culture Issue 42 Influencers Anonymous Instagram content creators answer a short survey about the influencer industry. Arts & Culture Issue 42 Crazy Busy There’s no rest for the aspirational. Arts & Culture Issue 42 The Goal Keepers Not your therapist, not your friend: What accounts for the remarkable rise of the life coach?