One piece of this book looks at an important attempt to communicate power through messages (and thus shift the waiting time for messages and their responses): medieval seals that signified the status of the person sending the message. These were marks on a message that let the recipient know the prominence of the one sending the message and that a response should not waste the valuable time of this important person. This chapter tells the many stories of when message delays — especially when a quick response was expected as part of the social code — shifted the course of history. Power, privilege, and expectations of quick responses have been bound together in how people in different social standings experience waiting.
I was able to spend quite a bit of time at the British National Archives in London looking through these amazing artifacts. Holding seals and documents that were created over 900 years ago was such a rewarding and unique experience for me as a scholar who has almost entirely studied the digital age. Below are some of the great images I captured of these seals.