Retrospective narrations by maritime authorities trace decision making in the compressed time frame between earthquake and tsunami, when geological events literally rupture the skein of communication devices and flows that animate social life and disaster relief. Bringing together ethnography and the social study of science and technology, this article illuminates uncertainties inhabiting military protocol in a crisscrossed public-private infrastructural universe. Focusing on the crucial predawn hours when rogue tsunami waves push against the limits of scientific knowledge, we extend social analysis into the rift between the technologically desired and the forgotten in order to open up an undiscussed realm of the technopolitical. We use the Chilean case to develop the concept of infrastructural drift, which we define as the behaviors and consciousness and unforeseen effects that accompany a systemic but unsystematic shift in technological habits.

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