Tactics For Waiting

Herbert Blau and the actors he was directing were nervous. Standing backstage before their performance of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, they peeked through the curtain at the audience that had gathered. The venue hadn’t hosted a performance in forty years, but each seat was occupied. The play, which premiered four years earlier in 1953, was being performed for a unique audience: prisoners in San Quentin State Prison, just north of San Francisco.

Blau chose the play in part because it was one of the only pieces that didn’t require female actors, and at the time women weren’t allowed in the prison. The warden warned the performance troupe, The Actor’s Workshop of San Francisco: “If these guys don’t like you, they’re going to let you know it.”1 Blau was understandably uncertain. After all, this is a play in which nothing happens. The two main characters, Vladimir and Estragon, wait for the arrival of Godot; but Godot never arrives. The main characters aren’t even sure whether they have the right day for the appointment. The stage design was stark, containing only a single leafless tree. Before the performance, Blau asked the prisoners to think of the play as a bit like jazz, to listen and experience whatever connected with them.

The curtain was pulled across the two boxing rings that had been pushed together to form the stage. Besides standing in a prison for the first time in their lives, about to perform a complex play for an audience of convicts, the actors had other reasons to be nervous. When Waiting for Godot opened in Paris, the audience and the critics hated it. It was shut down before it completed its run. At one point in the play, Vladimir and Estragon speculate that suicide may be the best answer to the suffering created by their endless wait, and Estragon asks Vladimir whether he has some rope. At the London premiere, an audience member responded, “For the love of God, somebody get them some!”2 At the same London premiere, when Estragon described the characters’ situation — “Nothing happens, nobody comes, nobody goes, it’s awful!” — an audience member replied, “Hear! Hear!” The audience also felt the pain of waiting, hoping the play would end quickly.

Waiting for Godot, Avignon Festival, 1978. Photograph by Fernand Michaud. Used under CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.

But five minutes after the curtains were opened at the San Quentin performance, something fascinating happened. The twelve hundred prisoners in attendance fell silent. Eugene Roche, the actor playing Vladimir said he had never performed in front of an audience so attentive before. “It was dead, dead silence. Now you usually you hear silence but you hear the rattling of programs, people adjusting their seats, coughing, and so on. None of that.”3 This audience knew what it meant to wait for what never arrives. “Godot is society,” one prisoner reflected. Another said, “He’s the outside.” One of the teachers in the prison said, “They know what is meant by waiting . . . and they knew if Godot finally came, he would only be a disappointment.”4

Beckett’s play, in its many violations of theatrical norms, strips away plot expectations to make a comment on the human condition. Godot symbolizes whatever we wait for, whatever we long for, whatever we rely on to save us from our current state of uncertainty and despair. Godot represents the promise of what might come on the other side of our waiting.

After a performance of Waiting for Godot I saw in Los Angeles, I reflected on all of the ways that I had waited, from eagerly waiting for the day of the performance to arrive to waiting in traffic to get to the theater. I waited in line to get inside the theatre. I waited in anticipation for the curtain to rise. I waited during the performance for action to happen. But the only action that happens in the play is more waiting. I waited for something that never arrived and the play asks us to reflect on this as our lot in life. Meanwhile, as we wait, we find ways to pass the time just like Vladimir and Estragon: we interact as social beings, complain, discuss food, tell stories.

Though reviled by its first audiences in Paris and London, the play has gone on to connect with broad swaths of people — from prisoners in San Quentin to new audiences in a digital age — because it shows how time flows through us and changes us. Day after day, as we wait for the things we desire, we become different people. In the act of waiting, we become who we are. Waiting points to our desires and hopes for the future; and while that future may never arrive and our hopes may never be fulfilled, the act of reflecting on waiting teaches us about ourselves. The meaning of life isn’t deferred until that thing we hope for arrives; instead, in the moment of waiting, meaning is located in our ability to recognize the ways that such hopes define us.

“Waiting points to our desires and hopes for the future; and while that future may never arrive and our hopes may never be fulfilled, the act of reflecting on waiting teaches us about ourselves. The meaning of life isn’t deferred until that thing we hope for arrives; instead, in the moment of waiting, meaning is located in our ability to recognize the ways that such hopes define us.”

Yet, despite the ways that waiting can be instructive and meaningful, it is still regarded as punishment and a pain to endure. For the prisoners in San Quentin, Waiting for Godot highlighted the many ways that make waiting, isolated from society, is one of the most excruciating forms of punishment. Waiting is made visible as the price to be paid for their crimes. As countries around the world exact punishment for crimes, they enforce on convicts an experience of time passing as justice and, criminologists hope, a means of rehabilitation. Time is meant to be slow and thick and noticeable for these inmates.

The rest of us, in the small slivers of time we have to wait, may feel as if we are given a glimpse of how these prisoners feel each day: powerless, punished, in someone else’s control. Unlike time as it is experienced when we are being productive or while enjoying an activity, waiting is noticed and lived. Waiting becomes obvious. We feel uncomfortable, uncertain, anxious.

Though we notice waiting in these moments of endurance and pain, I believe that we don’t really understand it. Waiting tends to hide the reasons it exists. As we go about our day, time can seem transparent as we go about our day, not drawing explicit attention to the work it does on our lives. Media and time are noticeable or invisible based on the relationship they bear to content. In some contexts, we are either meant to notice the medium of an experience; in other contexts, it is designed to disappear. When we attend a movie, the lights go down and we are meant to simply connect with the content of the film; we notice the medium only when it breaks down such as when the volume too soft or there is a glitch with the projector. Other media are meant to be noticed as tools for communicating the message; think of cubism, Beckett’s minimalist style of theater, a contemporary artist who uses an obsolete medium like Polaroid film, or musicians who release an album only on vinyl. Time, as a medium, works in similar ways. It can be conspicuous, noticeable to a lesser degree, or invisible, seamlessly enabling us to accomplish our goals. Time tends to be invisible when we feel that we are making the most of it.

Waiting, in contrast, draws attention to itself as a medium that we can’t ignore as we attempt to accomplish our day’s tasks. Having to wait feels like a direct affront to the goals we may have as we work or when we hope to engage in leisure activities. Waiting is a hurdle between us and our plans. We see wait time as a burden and obstacle, but we rarely notice the larger reasons for this perception. We don’t truly see the larger structural reasons why waiting is so reviled. Why is waiting seen as the ultimate punishment and the hurdle to living the good life? How can we reconcile these beliefs with the fact that waiting is time’s great teacher about who we are and who we hope to become?


As I’ve worked on this book, many people have asked me what “waiting differently” might look like. We can’t really avoid waiting, they acknowledge, so how do we deal with it in efficient ways that minimize its impact on our goals? How can waiting be productive rather than a waste and a burden?

I think these questions reinforce a stereotype. These questions do not acknowledge that waiting can be a beneficial activity. These questions assume that productive time, in which we pack each minute full of tasks that meet our to-do list, is the best path toward living a full life. As I hope to have demonstrated in this book, there are times when waiting can be essential to certain modes of learning, creativity, and connecting.

The questions I have fielded reflect value judgments about how time is and should be used: productive time is efficient while waiting is inefficient; productive time seamlessly weaves into our lives while waiting is full of seams and puts our lives on pause. Productive time is invisible and waiting is conspicuous. Time’s movement between invisibility/visibility, efficient/inefficient, and seamless/stitched mirrors the ways that designers have described our encounters with emerging technologies. Mark Weiser, the computer scientist and designer who coined the term “ubiquitous computing” to describe the proliferation of media that seamlessly “weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it,”5 noted that these kinds of media should be “literally visible, effectively invisible.”6 In other words, we can see them if we look, but as we go about our day-to-day lives, these media should blend in so well that we don’t notice them. Time is meant to parallel this way of blending in with our lives, goals, and actions. We can see it and notice it, but it is “effectively invisible” when we’re going about our days. Media and time should mesh seamlessly with our lives. When the seams reveal themselves, when our media break down or when we are forced to wait, these experiences run counter to the ideal mode of efficient and seamless interactions.

Looking at the seams, however, allows us to see how things are put together.7 Waiting forces time to be visible, as loosely stitched and seemingly inefficient. Here, we are able to see the cultural assumptions around what our society assumes to be good or wasteful uses of time. As we begin noticing these times, we can see the work they do in a society, both good and bad. By making us students of the seams, wait times can teach us about the forces in life that have shaped our assumptions about time, efficiency, and productivity. Once we study these things in our lives, we can begin developing tactics for dealing with our wait times.


“Tactics” is a term drawn from military usage. Strategies are plans of action directing a military force when attacking another, and tactics are a responses to conditions on the ground.8 In this vein, time is imposed on us by our cultures, by the technologies that have regimented time down to the nanosecond, and by its own finite nature and the fact that we’re only going to live so long. In response, we must develop tactics for dealing with time and waiting. These aren’t tactics to eliminate waiting; instead, these are tactics for teaching us how to learn from the seams. These tactics have the potential to reorient us in profound ways, transforming our perspectives on our wait times. Such renewed perspectives transform waiting from a burden to a springboard toward things like creativity, social critique, or reflection on our inner state and the state of our relationships.

It is impossible to answer the question “What does it mean to wait in the digital age?” because waiting’s meaning is always based on its unique context. But we can explore why we respond as we do to waiting when it appears. Wait times — in an age that values the instant — are incredibly instructive, but first we must allow ourselves to experience moments of waiting. If my undergraduate students are representative, collectively we are fleeing from wait times. Even in the most mundane and minuscule moments of waiting, we find some way to occupy ourselves. When my students are confronted with wait times (and the boredom that accompanies this waiting), they pull out their phones and check their text messages, social media, and email, or play a game. (Some students seem to want to report an activity for every moment of the day, so even if their self-reporting isn’t completely accurate, the ambition to chart the entire day is telling.) If we want to be tactical about how to learn from and respond to our wait times, we must allow ourselves to acknowledge these moments.

The challenge of dwelling in our wait times is that our attention is constantly tugged at. As Nobel Prize-winning economist Herbert Simon has noted, societies that are surrounded by information-rich media typically face a scarcity of the resource that the information media consumes. “What information consumes is rather obvious,” he writes, “it consumes the attention of its recipients.” The consequence is “a poverty of attention” and our subsequent attempts to spread our attention efficiently across this overabundance of information.9 The stakes of this scarcity are high. As legal scholar Tim Wu argues in The Attention Merchants, the ways we direct our attention don’t just affect how well we use our time or the discussions that end up dominating national discourse; instead, “the very nature of our lives is at stake. For how we spend the brutally limited resource of our attention will determine those lives. . . . When we reach the end of our days, our life experience will equal what we have paid attention to, whether by choice or default.”10

While I have focused on the moment when people wait for a response to a message — a moment that shapes our social identities and the ways we build knowledge of our world and universe — the number of ways that we wait is extraordinary. Paying attention to our wait times opens the possibility of learning from waiting and building on this knowledge as a force to positively shape our lives and our societies. How we wait comments on our society’s notions of power, efficiency, and ambitions for the future. If we don’t pay adequate attention to these wait times and the force they exact on daily life, then we will simply be pulled into a future of someone else’s making rather than attempting to respond tactically to the strategies of those who impose their time upon us.

“How we wait comments on our society’s notions of power, efficiency, and ambitions for the future. If we don’t pay adequate attention to these wait times and the force they exact on daily life, then we will simply be pulled into a future of someone else’s making.”

The first tactic in learning from our wait times is to shift away from a focus on the feelings of waiting (anger, boredom, discomfort, and longing, among others). It is as simple as asking, “Why am I waiting?” The initial answers will probably be shallow responses to a complex situation. You may be waiting because your friend is running late or you may be waiting because your boss is wrapping up a previous meeting. You may be waiting because the train only runs only every twenty minutes on weekends. You may be waiting because the restaurant is packed with people and the kitchen is slammed with orders. You may be waiting because you are incarcerated in San Quentin State Penitentiary until your parole hearing.

A follow-up question that helps us move from shallow to complex answers is “Who benefits from my waiting?” That is, while I may perceive waiting as imposed on me and often either inconveniencing me or denying me my ability to control my own time, it is important to ask who (or what) benefits or profits from my waiting in this moment. Sometimes, we are the beneficiaries of our own wait times. Waiting can be an investment that pays out to us in a range of ways. Waiting can be a way for us to save or accrue money in a retirement account (rather than spending it when the first need arises), or it can be a way for us delay gratification. I might wait now to get something better on the other side of my waiting. We often attribute our ability to wait to the building of patience, an esteemed character trait. Those around me might benefit from my waiting, such as the drivers of other cars at an intersection where I am waiting at a traffic light. Yet, waiting might also reveal structural benefits, when those in positions of power are able to reiterate that power by making us wait. As discussed in chapter 3, the design of waiting rooms for welfare offices in some South America (and elsewhere in the world) make people wait in uncomfortable and uncertain ways in order to reaffirm the lack of power the poor have in that society. Similarly, making you wait for a meeting is a boss’s way to confirm his or her position of power in that relationship. The same can be said of romantic relationships: the person who makes a partner wait is communicating a claim for power and importance. Ultimately, making others wait is claiming priority of time. This observation can lead to another telling question: How am I making others wait? While some people are in positions of power over us and make us wait, are there people in our lives over whom we similarly exercise power over by imposing waiting on them?

These examples reveal two important themes for developing tactics of waiting. First, waiting is a collective experience of time. Second, waiting is a way that power is exercised. This first point reorients us in potentially positive ways for how we encounter waiting. One of our reasons for feeling that waiting is a burden is that we believe our time is distinct from other people’s time. In contemporary Western societies, we tend to value individual time over collective time. My time doesn’t correspond with your time; we’re each living in our own times and you often get in the way of me using my time effectively. Instead, if we see time as collective rather than individual, we can see how our wait times can benefit those around us.

Recently I was in line at the grocery store with two shoppers in front of me and a long line of people behind me. I had a cart full of groceries including many frozen items that were slowly thawing or melting as I waited for my turn to check out. The lines were all packed on this busy Saturday morning. The woman at the checkout counter, a young mother with her toddler sitting patiently in the cart, was paying for her groceries. She had to split the payment between cash and food stamps. She was also making sure that all of her coupons were counted, because she believed some hadn’t been tallied correctly. The store manager had to come over to answer the customer’s questions about store specials and override the system to correct the errors. The customer in front of me, a well-dressed elderly woman, turned to me and rolled her eyes. As the process dragged on, the two men behind me voiced their annoyance that they were being kept waiting. the young woman ignored them. As she made sure that everything was correct, the men continued, “Oh, come on!” turning to other people in line to exchange facial expressions of total frustration.

From the perspectives of some of these patrons, the woman who struggled and deliberated over how to pay for her groceries was making them wait. She was wasting their time. She was holding up the line and violating the social expectations of moving quickly at a peak time for grocery shopping.11 Her inquiry about the coupons was perceived as a selfish act because it made others wait. However, by prioritizing individual time instead of collective time, the people in line behind the woman paying for her groceries were creating a split that fostered frustration and a sense of wasted time. If my time is distinct from your time, and you end up wasting my time by valuing your own, you have robbed me of my resource (time). When you value your own time instead of my time, you have effectively stolen minutes (or hours) from me. We see these attitudes in abundance.

Customers patiently wait in line, which wrapped throughout the store, at the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune commissary to purchase their last minute groceries. Photo By: Gunnery Sgt. Ryan E. O’Hare.

However, if we shift perspectives and see our time as intertwined with one another’s, then we are all investing our time in other people’s circumstances. Communication scholar Sarah Sharma argues that the contradictions of our digital age center on the moral imperatives of “using our time wisely” while critiquing those who must negotiate with the social structures (like using food stamps) that demand that they use their time in specific ways. Our moral perspectives around using time wisely are founded on the ways we value individual time. I must use my time wisely and if you delay me or make me wait, you are impeding my ability to meet that social expectation of productivity. Sharma argues that if we see our time as intertwined with one another’s, a new moral imperative emerges. If my time is bound with yours, it benefits me to see you use your time well or, in contrast, to help you combat the social structures that force you to spend your time in ways that put you at a disadvantage. Sharma calls for us to have a “temporal awareness” of the ways that all of our time is intertwined, but often allocated unevenly to different people. If we don’t foster this kind of awareness, she argues, we risk managing our own time in a way that “has the potential to further diminish the time of others.”12 Waiting can be the thing we study to see how things like racial and class inequalities force people to live time in a different way, further emphasizing their marginal positions. As I waited in line behind the woman attempting to save money and optimize her government resources to their fullest, I was aware of the vastly different ways in which time becomes a strategy to create divisions between people. Our irritation at people making us wait is a distraction from the larger social structures that created this situation.

When we feel irritated or frustrated at our wait times, it may also reveal the pace of our lives at that moment. I often feel rushed. There are days whose pace seems to be at breakneck speed. When the rhythm of my day is fast, pushing me to jump from one item on my to-do list to another, and suddenly I’m confronted by a roadblock to accomplishing my goals, I get frustrated and angry. Though I live in the Washington, DC, area now, I spent most of my life in Los Angeles and started driving at sixteen. All California drivers share the experience of being stuck behind a slow driver on the roads, doing everything legally possible to get around that driver, only to be sitting next to him at the next red light. For all of our stress to swerve around the driver who was slowing us down, we ended up at the exact same place. Along these lines, I’ve worked to recognize that my pace often does not get me where I want to go any faster, but only adds to the stress of trying to get there. I also work to recognize that if my time is collective, my attempts at getting ahead in line can be at the expense of other peoples’ times.

If we work toward an awareness of time as collective rather than individual, we can come to understand wait time as an investment in the social fabric that connects us. My patience with someone like the woman at the grocery store who has to account for every dollar and pay with food stamps is an investment of my time into her situation. As we invest time into other people through waiting, we become stakeholders in their situations. This has the radical potential to build empathy and to inspire a call for social change, as we realize that not everyone is afforded the same agency for how time is used. 

“If we work toward an awareness of time as collective rather than individual, we can come to understand wait time as an investment in the social fabric that connects us.”

There are times when we should wait and see the benefits of waiting; however, there are times when waiting needs to be resisted. Waiting can be a tool of the powerful to maintain the status quo by forcing people to invest their time in ways that inhibit their ability to transform their situation. Many examples demonstrate the kinds of waiting that reinforce the power dynamics in a society. From tracing the long-delayed recovery efforts and federal dollars that were delayed following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 or the perpetually delayed recovery for Puerto Rico and other Caribbean islands after Hurricane Maria in 2017, to the long commute times between home and job (often, jobs) imposed on many people below the poverty line, unequal access to time is revealed in the different ways people are forced to wait. Many social justice advocates like Angela Davis and Michelle Alexander point to prisoners like those sitting in San Quentin as prime examples of those who are forced to wait unjustly. The “prison industrial complex,” as Davis terms it, is fueled by racial inequality that targets African Americans more than any other population.13 In this example, wait times are strategies of the powerful to maintain that power and the status quo of power relationships in the social order.

Looking at these two tactics of waiting — seeing wait times as collective rather than individual and looking at who benefits from imposing wait times on us — can make waiting a lens through which we understand society. These tactics have the potential to connect us and allow us to begin enacting social change. We have seen in earlier chapters other tactics that build on these foundational approaches to waiting. For example, our connection to buffering icons demonstrates how these wait times can often reveal our hopes for what might come on the other side of waiting. The buffering icon, though reviled because it makes us wait, is actually a design the presents hope and desire for a different future. The in-between moment of refreshing a social media feed or dating profile on your phone is the pause that is full of promise. The news or messages that might arrive on the other side of waiting reveal our dreams about possible futures different from our present. These desires can teach us about our hopes and also tell us about our present situation. Why do we want the future to be different, and in what ways? How can we begin not only identifying our hopes for the future but building bridges toward those hopes? These moments of waiting can be the pauses that help us reflect on what the future ought to be.

Yet the tech industry resists such pauses as much as possible. As I observed in the introduction, by reducing wait times and holding our attention longer, companies profit. Are we at a place where wait times need to be intentionally built into our systems to help us have these moments of pause and reflection? Would we be better people if our technologies helped us pause more often to reflect on our current situations and how we can begin creating the futures that we long for?

“Wait times can often reveal our hopes for what might come on the other side of waiting. These desires can teach us about our hopes and also tell us about our present situation. Why do we want the future to be different and in what ways?”

Some believe that this approach is necessary. Marina Abramović’s artwork has often confronted the impact of the digital age on our attention, and with a 2015 piece she framed wait times as an antidote for our attention-weary, frantic lives. A collaboration with pianist Igor Levit, Abramović’s piece Goldberg is a performance of Bach’s Goldberg Variations that is preceded by a mandatory thirty-minute wait. Attendees arriving at the Park Avenue Armory in New York City, they exchanged their tickets for locker keys. After finding their lockers, they had to place all of their belongings into the locker, including their mobile devices and watches. Each audience member was then given noise-canceling headphones before entering the performance space. The Armory is a massive venue, sometimes described as a beautiful, cavernous aircraft hanger. The audience sat in white cloth deck chairs, as might be found on a beach or on a cruise ship. A gong rang as a call to put on the headphones, and the performance began with all attendees sitting in complete silence for thirty minutes. At the end of this time, Levit began his performance of the Goldberg Variations. For Abramović, imposing this wait time on the audience was a way of creating a discipline of attentiveness to prepare them for the piece. “The moment you don’t have your phone and you don’t have your watch to check if you’re sitting there for five minutes or ten, it just gives you a completely different state of mind.”14 In Zachary Woolfe, reviewing the piece for the New York Times, described dozing briefly and experiencing “a few moments of deep, uncanny calm.” Each person leaned back in a chair, encouraging an upward gaze to the “hall’s vast arched ceiling. Bach was lent some of the childlike wonder of a planetarium star show.” Woolfe continued: “An evening that could have — should have — felt ridiculous was instead…strangely enchanting.”15

Goldberg by Igor Levit and Marina Abramović at Park Avenue Armory. Photo by James Ewing.

Abramović developed her piece in response to the constant distractions of the digital age. We are so compelled by the “attention merchants” that Tim Wu described that we require a bit of help to carve out these times of silence and contemplation.  Woolfe’s reflection on the piece kept returning him to the “luxuriously quiet” half-hour wait that preceded Levit’s piano performance. Jen Poyant, producer of the radio show Note to Self, described how riveted she was in the spectacle of an entire audience dressed to the nines, wearing the noise-canceling headphones, “There’s no phones, nobody’s moving. We were all collectively doing this one action, which is non-action, together.”16 She found herself attentive to her own heartbeat and breath. By the end of the thirty minutes, the entire audience seemed settled. In reflecting on this wait time in his review of the performance, Woolfe realized that he had never considered “silence as a commodity, one far more accessible to wealthy New Yorkers than to poor ones.”

The piece may have been inspired in part by the work of John Cage, a composer whose piece 4’33 is a musical composition made up of four minutes and thirty-three seconds of silence (or, more accurately, the sounds of the space, of the bodies of the audience members, unique to each person and different each time it’s performed). Both Cage’s 4’33 and Abramović’s/Levit’s Goldberg echo the argument that I have throughout this book: silence is content. It is not a prelude to content, but is content itself. These silences are commentary on the contemporary desire to flee from moments of pause and waiting. They are commentary on our lack of silence and fear of the gaps that we have to fill with meaning. By embracing these pauses and imposed wait times, we are given the chance to reflect on the present rather than orient ourselves to some future object of desire.

Whether or not the digital age will require wait times built into our systems in ways that mirror Abramović and Levit’s Goldberg, we must confront the effects of our disdain toward waiting. We must reckon with the loss of wait times and the ways this loss has transformed our own creative capacities and connections with the present moment. If we can build tactics for waiting — tactics that recognize how our time is deeply intertwined with the time of others — we can become advocates for the value of waiting. When we recognize the value of wait times, but also the potential ways in which wait times can disempower, we become students of waiting. We unpack waiting’s power and promise, its value and its danger. Waiting pulls us into the present unlike any other experience of time. In the waiting, we realize that this moment is meaningful as it exists, not as some step toward a future moment. Waiting is present tense and its meanings are full of the potential to transform the ways we see the world. Each moment is its own experience and its own fulfillment.

  1. The Impossible Itself, directed by Jacob Adams (2010; Jacob Adams Productions), online video: https://search.alexanderstreet.com/view/work/bibliographic_entity%7Cvideo_work% 7C3233739
  2. Nick Mount, “On Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot” (presentation, Innis Town Hall, University of Toronto, January 29, 2009).
  3. The Impossible Itself.
  4. Martin Esslin, The Theatre of the Absurd. 3rd ed. (New York: Penguin, 1983), 20.
  5. Mark Weiser, “The Computer for the 21st Century,” Scientific American, 265, no. 3 (September 1991): 94.
  6. Mark Weiser, “Creating the invisible interface: (invited talk),” Proceedings of the 7th Annual ACM Conference on User Interface Software and Technology (Marina del Ray, CA, November 2-4, 1994), 1.
  7. See Matthew Chalmers and Areti Galani, “Seamful Interweaving: Heterogeneity in the Theory and Design of Interactive Systems,” Proceedings of the Symposium on Designing Interactive Systems (Cambridge, MA, August 1-4, 2004); Paul Dourish and Genevieve Bell, Divining a Digital Future: Mess and Mythology in Ubiquitous Computing (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2014); Genevieve Bell, “The Future is Already Here: Making Sense of ‘The Digital Transformation,’” (presentation, Australian Information Industry Association, Canberra, April 5, 2017).
  8. This distinction between strategies and tactics is discussed by Michel de Certeau in the introduction to The Practice of Everyday Life (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1984), xix-xx.
  9. Quoted in Martin Greenberger, Computers, Communications, and Public Interest (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1971), 40-41.
  10. Tim Wu, The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble To Get Inside Our Heads (New York: Vintage Books, 2016), 7.
  11. See Barry Schwartz, Queuing and Waiting: Studies in the Social Organization of Access and Delay (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1975).
  12. Sarah Sharma, In the Meantime: Temporality and Cultural Politics (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2014), 149.
  13. Angela Y. Davis, Are Prisons Obsolete? (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2003).
  14. Marina Abramović, “Marina Abramović’s Method Blew Our Minds,” Note to Self, WYNC Studios, December 9, 2015, www.wnyc.org/story/marina-abramovic/.
  15. Zachary Woolfe, “Review: In ‘Goldberg,’ Marina Abramovic and Igor Levit Blend Classical Music and Performance Art,” New York Times, December 8, 2015, https://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/09/arts/music/review-in-goldberg-marina-abramovic-and-igor-levit-blend-classical-music-and-performance-art.html?_r=0.
  16. Quoted in “Marina Abramović’s Method Blew Our Minds,” Note to Self.

Jason Farman

Jason Farman is a Professor of American Studies and the Associate Dean of the Graduate School at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is also a faculty member with the Immersive Media Design Program and the Human-Computer Interaction Lab. He is the former Director of the Design Cultures & Creativity Program, which he helped launch in 2010. He is author of the book Delayed Response: The Art of Waiting from the Ancient to the Instant World, which was awarded an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Grant for the Public Understanding of Science and Technology. He is also the author of Mobile Interface Theory: Embodied Space and Locative Media, winner of the 2012 Book of the Year Award from the Association of Internet Researchers. His work has been featured in The Atlantic, the BBC, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, NPR, National Geographic, 99% Invisible, Atlas Obscura, ELLE Magazine, GQ, Aeon, Vox, and others. He earned his Ph.D. in performance studies from UCLA’s School of Theater, Film, and Television.

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