This is the second part of a discussion on glitches, black bodies, and social justice movements. You can find Side A here.
Glitches have traditionally been viewed as an error, a problem in need of fixing. As Olga Goriunova and Alexei Shulgin write, “…a glitch is a short-term deviation from a correct value…The outcome of a glitch is not predictable. When applied to software…a glitch is an unpredictable change in the system’s behavior, when something obviously goes wrong” (emphasis their own). Oftentimes, the word is accompanied by choice phrases that express complete and total frustration when, inevitably, a computer freezes and your work is lost.
For the purposes of their argument, Goriunova and Shulgin’s decision to simplify “glitch” and use it as a means to signify “error,” makes much sense. In fact, in many cases, a glitch truly only is ever seen as an error (take a TV screen glitch or a glitch in an electronic system’s hardware, endlessly frustrating experiences for both the individual trying to use the system and the individual charged with fixing the problem). However, in defining a glitch solely as an error, Goriunova and Shulgin in fact miss the nuances that come into being when one attempts to define what the term “glitch” refers to in the modern digital space, particularly in terms of digital games.