And politicians seem to really love it as well, perhaps because it is a funny-sounding, non-threatening word, implying a minor hiccup rather than a serious defect. So, whenever some new, high-profile software system crashes and burns upon launch, you get lots of folksy talk about glitches: there's just a few glitches, they're fixing the glitches, you've got to expect a few glitches, etc. Whenever I heard such talk, I like to imagine the difference between the attempts to downplay the problems, and the likely reality of stressed-out engineers scrambling to fix a system that was released in a half-finished state due to an unrealistic deadline.
Likewise, if software rounds bank transfers to the nearest thousand $ and loses the remainder, but only on Thursdays when there is an 'r' in the month, then that's a glitch; but when the software doesn't open that's a 'bug' (or rather, 'it doesn't work').
It's an inconsequential difference from a software engineering pov, but in my experience it's major to outsiders, to the point where they start looking for workarounds for 'glitches' or explain things away, but throw their hands up at the first sign of a 'doesn't work'. I don't understand the thinking, but at least trying to understand users in similar circumstances has made me realize that there are things where I just can't understand someone else's point of view, in which case I need to switch problem solving or design methods; because no matter how hard I try, my 'how is that not obvious' approach isn't going to work.
I'm a graphics programmer who previously used to work with UI and we often use the word glitch to refer to animation hiccups, graphics issues due to corrupted render buffers, etc.
In the Need For Speed games from Ghost, we had a visual effect of disturbances running across the screen which was shown when you were hit by an EMP or seriously damaged. We sometimes referred to that visual effect internally as the "glitch shader".
edit: look at the UI elements: speedometer, mini map, etc.
A bug is unintended program behavior generally caused by programmer mistake specifically.
Bug is a specific case of glitch.
Then there's also error, which is a glitch the computer itself is aware of. An exploit is a glitch that can be used to gain unfair advantage.
Basically, "complicated system doesn't work" is often a less intricate problem than "complicated system almost works." The perception may be opposite because it seems like more work to fix something that is "more broken", but that's the same logic as LOC as a good productivity metric. As with all things, there are exceptions, but I'd say the tendency is that glitches are harder to fix than bugs.
I know Verhoeven’s perspective was to use violent satire to speak about fascism, and the increasing militarization and technology-adoption of police forces — themes that are even more topical today.
I think your description of how glitch is used today, as a folksy (and ultimately dishonest) non-threatening way to describe a failure while stressed-out engineers scramble to prop-up a half-finished system, directly captures the ED-209 scene — where people seek to mislead about the true situation through the use of the word “glitch”.
That pulse is a glitch and if your circuit isn't designed robustly it might go off and increment a counter somewhere or so something else it's not supposed to.
Companies know this.
Journalists have been trained not to investigate the underlying (often, dysfunctioning organizational) causes of software meltdowns - and happily stop at "glitch!" - which seems to absolve everyone of responsibility.
Another good bit of etymology. Popularization of 'cool' / Lester Young.
Software people don't use glitch except for transient network issues or hardware reliability because software is deterministic. If it worked yesterday it will work the same way today, once you identify the actual bug-triggering conditions.
Journalists have a predilection for using the same keywords and phrases in their headlines over and over again. Such as: slams, taps, full-throated, silence is deafening, soars, plunges, meltdown, and of course, glitch. I have no idea why they love these phrases so. Is it an established convention? A kind of shibboleth among professionals? Monkey-see, monkey-do?
"And" is Germanic, but we don't think about that.
I especially like the phrase "someone is glitching out". I think this originated in scifi (think a bot), but you can use it to describe mental problems or just wierd behavior. It's impossible to use in German: "Jemand glitsht" - wait, why are they slippery?
The book's publication date was during a very exciting year of the "Space Race" — first American in orbit (John Glenn), first orbital solar observatory, first spacecraft to impact the far side of the Moon, first active communications satellite, etc. — so was presumably very popular.
> One might surmise from this that Glenn and his fellow astronauts took a highly technical term and "adopted" it into a more general term for any malfunction. But that overlooks the history of the term predating the space program — a history only now becoming clear.
As any experienced tech would, the first thing I do in most cases is just turn off the offending device, feature, or program, and then turn in back on again.
As I doubt I have to tell hn, that solves a great number of issues, but you rarely know why. The person I’m helping will ask what exactly was wrong in the first place, and generally all I can say is: “Dunno, something must have glitched.”
Its overuse leads people to mistrust systems more than they probably should.
It also allows people to excuse actual faults as if they are unavoidable realities of life, ultimately leading to increasingly relaxed standards and more future flaws.
Similar examples are "thing", which you use to refer to something you don't know the name of or can't be bothered to name specifically (because you are mentally lazy or you haven't tried to learn and remember), and the new popular "fake news" -- the phrase you can use when you don't believe what was said, or you don't want to believe it even though you know it may be true, or perhaps you are unwilling to accept the information and want to suggest to your listener that they should also ignore the information.
Glitsh, slippery slope indeed.