Push Button

Rachel Plotnick’s Power Button, looks at the history of the button and how it became a means for digital command:

First, it points to the fact that dystopian fears have often manifested around button pushing because buttons’ effects are perceived to be swift and irreparable – once you push a button you can’t undo the process you’ve set in motion. In this imagining, buttons function more like triggers because they can’t be “unpressed.” Second, and related, those potentially catastrophic effects can (theoretically) be controlled by any person and by any person’s hand. The subtext, here, is that you don’t need special strength, skill or knowledge to push buttons, and this notion of universality – anyone can push a button – has made buttons both seductive and terrifying for more than a century.

November 13, 2019