“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 19 Going Incognito We all secretly wonder what mischief we’d make if invisible: When our identity is hidden, everything seems possible. Arts & Culture Issue 19 The Best Policy Sometimes we talk to each other without feeling heard. Honesty—a most intimate interaction—can be just as thrilling as its more devious inverse. Arts & Culture Issue 19 A Sense of Suspense With unhinged imaginations and mountains of cliff-hangers, the filmmakers behind the sci-fi podcast Limetown have all the makings of a scary story. Arts & Culture Issue 19 Like Clockwork In this new column about time, we learn how slipping off our watches makes us feel like deadline-damning renegades. Arts & Culture Music Issue 19 On a Grander Scale Malaysian singer-songwriter Yuna now may live on the opposite side of the globe, but she’s determined to evolve while staying true to her roots. Arts & Culture Issue 19 Neighborhood: Fire Stations The firefighting profession has evolved over time from Ancient Rome’s rudimentary bucket brigades to today’s sleek life-saving departments.