When is the last time you read something without a progress bar attached to it?
Books, scrolls, and stone tablets can’t help but express how far along you are in a text, but it seems a bit funny that my Kindle continually reminds me that I am exactly thirty-seven percent done with reading The Corrections. Even platforms which have strived to make ‘scrolling’ obsolete by replacing it with a gestural interface have still kept a scrollbar around as an indicator of progress through the document.
In the spirit of minimalism, I recently installed a Chrome extension which removes scrollbars from every page on the web. Surprisingly, losing access to a document progress indicator has really changed the way that I read long-form writing. For example, I am more likely to start reading a longer piece if I don’t know its length at the outset.
I’d like to see more of these kinds of changes happening in the interest of making digial text more deeply engaging.