The Replacement Infrastructure

He’s capable, but accident can strike down even the most capable.
“Dune” by Frank Herbert

We can become depended on our tools quickly — which is natural and beneficial. After all, tools enlarge our options, allow us to do things we couldn’t normally do — and the better the tools the larger this effect is.

But it poses problems when you loose the access to the tools. The one danger is that you leave the setting (e.g., work environment) and suddenly do not have access to the same tools or services anymore. The other danger is that a tool you use breaks.

I think there is no tool where you see the effect as dramatically as with computers. You see an artists studio who works with physical tools, e.g., paint, canvass, accessories, etc., and you can imagine the loss if it all goes up in flames. But in some cases you only see a 13-inch Mac Book Pro, a mouse and a power cord and you cannot even imagine the scope of the materials that this little computer contains. Vast archives of interesting texts or images as food for thought, whole studios contained within a single application like Photoshop or Illustrator, a printing press within InDesign, and much much more.

And within the split second of a lighting strike, or the slow and agonizing two seconds when you notice that the glass of wine is tipping but you are to shocked to do anything, it is all gone.

Given that being creative is the life-blood for many of us — and that nothing hurts more than not being able to be creative because the tools are missing — it is a very good idea to keep the money necessary for a replacement system. This does not only mean the about 2000€ for a new Mac Book Pro, but also investing the money in an infrastructure that makes a backup quick and easy: An external hard disc drive you use for time machine backups, burning DVDs of your data every month or so, and making damn sure that you have backups of all the programs you use including the license keys.

Not only will it save your creative life from a total loss if or better when the virtual studio goes up in smoke, it also allows you to take your notebook to places you would not normally take them. I noticed this with my DSLR camera. When it was “my precious”, it was very hesitant to take it to places where it might get damaged. But now that I have decided to replace it in the near future, I am much more willing to take it — for example — up a climbing wall to shoot some photos of people climbing from above.

Having the replacement money/infrastructure allows you to climb a steep rock, knowing that when you fall there is a climbing rope to catch you. Doing it without this replacement system is like doing a free solo — you might like the adrenaline, but like in climbing, even if you do not fail, your tools might.