“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 50 Close Knit Close Knit: Meet the weavers keeping traditional Egyptian tapestrymaking alive. Arts & Culture Issue 50 The Old Gays Inside a Californian TikTok “content house” of a very different stripe. Arts & Culture Issue 50 New Roots The Palestinian art and agriculture collective sowing seeds of community. Arts & Culture Issue 50 Angela Trimbur An all-out tour de force.