Glitch Studies and the Ambiguous Objectivity of Algorithms

15 Pages Posted: 14 Jun 2017

See all articles by Daan Kolkman

Daan Kolkman

Eindhoven University of Technology (TUE)

Jakko Kemper

University of Amsterdam

Date Written: March 31, 2017


Algorithms play an increasingly central part in our societies. The impact of these quantification objects extends beyond our everyday interactions with information technology. Algorithms contribute to the evidence-base that underpins organisational decision-making of public and private sector organisations. The decisions that algorithms help inform may guide the allocation of substantial resources and consequentially deeply affect the lives of people across the globe. Algorithms are perceived as the state-of-the art and fulfil a desire to overcome inefficiencies in the decision-making process by employing the best available information. Despite their veneer of objectivity, algorithms are as much as art as they are science. We discuss the role of algorithms in organisational decision-making from a glitch studies perspective. We demonstrate that algorithms are not as objective as they are generally held to be, that their operations transcend human cognition, and conclude that glitch studies offer a valuable perspective to describe, understand, and critique the role of algorithms.

Keywords: algorithms, models, glitch, digital culture, organisations, decision making, data science

Suggested Citation

Kolkman, Daniel Antony and Kemper, Jakko, Glitch Studies and the Ambiguous Objectivity of Algorithms (March 31, 2017). Available at SSRN: or

Daniel Antony Kolkman

Eindhoven University of Technology (TUE) ( email )

PO Box 513
Den Dolech 2
Eindhoven, 5600 MB

Jakko Kemper (Contact Author)

University of Amsterdam ( email )

Spui 21
Amsterdam, 1018 WB

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