South Coast Branch Seminar
Datafication has been described as the great infrastructure project of the 21st century and it is advancing rapidly in schools and school systems. Infrastructure building is a modernist project that operates in a poetic mode to symbolize progress. The politics of datafication in schooling has developed in response to this poetics and is often polarised between positions that endorse the acceleration of datafication or those which contest promises of better education through data. As a result, little attention has been paid to the actual work of infrastructure building and how it is rewiring schools and education systems. In this paper, I will introduce an empirical example of the mundane technical work of software developers who are implementing interoperability standards to provide a national data infrastructure for schools. Drawing on the writings of Emmanuel Levinas and the American novelist David Foster Wallace, I will argue that carefully engaging with the quotidian dimension of infrastructure can help us to resist the seduction of abstract utopian and dystopian imaginaries in order to gain an ethical perspective on the work being done to build information systems that support teachers and students.