Throbber: Executing Micro-temporal Streams

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Abstract

oading images and webpages, waiting for social media feeds, streaming music, movies and other multimedia contents have become a mundane activity in contemporary culture. In many situations nowadays, users encounter a distinctive spinning icon during the loading, waiting and streaming of data content. A graphically animated icon called throbber tells users something is loading-in-progress, but nothing more. Providing a cultural reading and micro-temporal analysis of a throbber, this article examines the temporal and technical operativities of data streaming, including digital signal processing, network transmission and data buffering. It suggests that such a cultural icon offers a critical space for speculating and reflecting on how time is being structured and organized, as well as how micro-decisions are made and processed to render the networked condition of now. By questioning the notion of streams, this article argues that the now that we experience through perceptible streams is entangled with the underlying time-dependent logics and operativities.
Original languageEnglish
JournalComputational Culture
Volume2019
Issue7
Pages (from-to)1-52
ISSN2047-2390
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019

Keywords

  • execution
  • throbber
  • Temporality
  • nowness
  • software studies
  • streams
  • micro-temporality
  • throb

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