Delayed Response

The Art of Waiting from the Ancient to the Instant World

by Jason Farman

We have always waited for life-changing messages: whether it be the time for you to receive a text message from your love, for a soldier’s family to learn news from the front, or for a space probe to deliver data from the reaches of the Solar System. In this book in praise of wait times, award-winning author Jason Farman passionately argues the delay between call and answer has always been an important part of the message.

Traveling backward from our current era of Twitter and texts, Farman shows how societies have worked to eliminate waiting in communication and interpreted those times’ meanings. Exploring seven eras and objects of waiting—including pneumatic mail tubes in New York, Elizabethan wax seals, and Aboriginal Australian message sticks—Farman offers a new mindset for waiting today. In a rebuttal of the desire for instant communication, Farman makes a powerful case for why good things can come to those who wait.

Delayed Response will be published by Yale University Press in 2018. This book has been funded through the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation’s Book Grant for the Public Understanding of Science and Technology.