45 Gaston Bachelard,
The Poetics of Space, trans. Maria Jolas (Boston: Beacon Press, 1964), 228. This poetic connection of miniaturization with "uniqueness" and "fragility" has its material basis in the very hardware of digital technology. See Alexander Stille, "Overload," New Yorke r , March 8, 1999, 38-44. Stille quotes Charles Mayne, head of the laboratory for the Department of Special Media Preservation in the National Archives on the latest digital audiotape: "People love these things because they are so small, compact, and lightweight, and can store tons of data, but as larger and larger amounts of data are crammed into smaller and smaller spaces the technology gets more precise, more complex, and therefore more fragile. We have a lot of these tapes from the late nineteen-eighties that can't be played at all" (42). And, in relation to storage and "preservation," Stille points out, "The extreme precision of the new miniaturization technologies is such that each machine produces tapes that are unintentionally customized to a particular alignment of the laser beams that encode and read information"; that is, as a specialist tells him, "A slight misalignment of the head is sufficient to guarantee that you will never read the tape except on a machine that has the same misalignment" (44; emphasis mine). Paradoxically, the process of miniaturizing technologies of reproduction and preservation leads to an opposite result: singularity, fragility, and loss.