The internet is fragile. We've grown increasingly willing to trade stability for convenience, and the loss of CGHUB.com this week served as an eye-opener for many digital artists. If tumblr, facebook, or your favorite image sharing platform disappeared tomorrow would you have a contingency plan?
The internet is so fragile that it decided to erase the first draft of my blog post in a spat of well-timed irony. Well played, internet. This blog post’s untimely demise is only one small example, but the larger point is an important one. We rely heavily on internet services, and it took this week’s unexpected disapperance of CGHUB.com to remind us. Some lost their contacts, others lost artwork, but nearly everyone lost something. And from the artists I talked to, no one saw it coming. Let’s explore some of the collateral damage from CGHUB and consider possible safeguards for the future.
Some of my peers lost their artwork when CGHUB dissapeared. As in literally didn’t have backed up copies of their paintings. You may be rolling your eyes at this, but I’m willing to bet you have some documents that only exist in “the cloud.” I’m a big fan of google docs, and frequently keep my documents saved there. What would happen if my google drive turned off tomorrow? It wouldn’t be good. Even if you don’t leave your original artwork up to chance like my friends did, I’m guessing you’ve got a few documents relying on the cloud for survival. These services are great, and convenient, but it’s always a good idea to keep additional backups.
The worst CGHUB assets I lost were my “favorites”. As a great convenience, the site allowed me to collect a list of my favorite paintings and artists. This list slowly grew over the years I enjoyed the site, eventually serving as my primary directory of concept art inspiration. Now it’s lost forever. How hard would it have been to collect additional information about these artists? Not very hard. Personal blog URLs, Tumblr sites, or even Facebook pages would have been easy to collect, and would have saved me a lot of pain this week. If you’re collecting lists like these on other sites, what would happen if they disappeared tomorrow?
A Smarter Strategy
I’m not telling you to unplug from the internet and stop trusting google. Far from it. These services are extremely valuable, and help the community thrive. Instead, I’m pointing out that we could save a lot of heartache by enacting simple contingency plans. The best action I can suggest is to hedge your bets. Instead of focusing all of your internet presence on one site (like CGHUB), become active in a handful. Keep a personal portfolio website. Consider what would happen if any of these sites were to unexpectedly vanish, and whether you would be prepared. And please … please remember to backup your contacts, artwork, or anything else you’re storing in the cloud.
We’d love to hear your strategy in the comments!