bellropespiderWelcome to a small spider’s corner of the Web.

The life of most bellropespiders is a simple one – a ringing chamber or a place on the ceiling in the church, a set of ropes to care for, and a band of bellringers to watch over, listen to and care for, who create the best music in the world. All bellrope spiders regard Sunday as the best day of the week, but Saturdays can be brilliant too, just less predictable.

This spider does a little more.

With just a smartphone (or indeed a computer or a tablet), and a few minutes practice, anyone in the bellringing community can learn to tweet. The most enormous and rather scary Google Spiders crawl on Twitter most regularly so the information in all these public tweets is visible for all persons to find, whether or not they like tweeting (which most don’t).

This spider wondered (she is insatiably curious) just who, in the world, was tweeting about bellringing. She tweeted and Googled and hunted and Followed through 2013 and patiently wove all the bellringing Tweeps she found into a map of the UK (scroll carefully downwards if you are impatient to see it).

She listens of course to the belltweeps in Australia, New Zealand and the USA but if she puts them on her map too, then the scale goes all peculiar so she left them out for now. Illustrious National Tweeters have been carefully put into the empty blue sections around the map of the UK and she sincerely hopes that they are not getting too wet. Small fanfare now for the map. Please do click on any of the ping pong bats, icons or other symbols to reveal information about each. Within the information boxes you can click on any of the blue hotlinks to see more.

Heavens how surprising you are still reading the ramblings of a small arachnid.

During the long, long periods between ringing in her tower, this spider has had plenty of time to learn. (Well, she is insatiably curious). She has Googled and experimented and made some embarassing mistakes (which are all piled neatly under the carpet below), and read lots and lots of web pages. She is especially partial to Dove Online because it contains hundreds and hundreds of hotlinks through to Towers and Guilds and some of them, just a small small few, have photographs of their SPIDERS which is a joy to find. Even the spider-less pages contain lots of pictures of happy friendly bellringers and information about when they ring, and how to phone them up, which are almost as good.

Methods make an artful embellishment to any web, so she also visits http://www.ringbell.co.uk/methods/ often to admire and learn.

Spider is most impressed by, and a great fan of, Mr. Rob Parker who has made it his job to connect together many diverse bellringing websites and woven them into a coherent and most elegant web called http://www.bellringing.org/ . Without the tireless efforts of Mr. Parker, there would be heaps and heaps of illustrious bellringing websites, information, and wonderfulness on the Internet but they might be not so connected and organised and easy to find as they are currently. In Spider’s opinion Mr. Parker weaves excellent webs and is an honorary arachnid.

This spider, because of her insatiable curiosity, has also learned a lot about techno-babbly sorts of things. She is quite partial to writing small spidery pieces of html, likes nothing better than a collection of hotlinks, and understands such esoteric issues as how to pin photos on her twitter profile for future enjoyment, and how to embed twitter streams into websites so that Tower Captains can rush important news onto Tower Pages even when the local webmasters are fast asleep. She has been most ably assisted up this learning curve by many illustrious webmasters and super-tweeters, including Mr. Phil Tremain in Cornwall, Mr. Andrew Howell, and super-patient Mr. David Forder and Ms Rosemary Oakshott, who weave the Winchester and Portsmouth Guild Website.

Twitter is a relaxed, simple, public, open, place for any person to place their small thoughts. There are many non-human tweeters – this spider is only a small example.

Facebook is different, the Rules (and I always tries to stay awake long enough to read rules when I sign up for something online) state that one human can have one identity maximum. I am obediently using my human identity on Facebook so you may have chatted to me there as https://www.facebook.com/rosalind.martin.73

My original intention for @Bellropespider was to remain within the confines of Twitter. However, as I am ongoing, trying to help different bellringers as they start to learn to tweet about their tower(s), it makes a lot of sense to collect some of the technical notes together into a series of web posts. I am responsible for  candsbellringers.com, a WordPress Blog which acts as the Christchurch and Southampton District Bellringers Website so the natural choice is WordPress. Happily, WordPress interfaces with Twitter and Google Maps very easily indeed so it’s a good technical choice anyway.

I have a vision for the future. In twenty years’ time I would like to be a busy contented bellringer who gets out and about, learns new methods, makes new friends and is having a thoroughly good time in a variety of towers locally and nationally. There are rumblings of bad news in our collective future – our churches can be closed, bands can diminish and even disappear, bells can fall silent, and individuals can become so discouraged either with the technical difficulty of learning ringing, or with the atmosphere of their local band, that they despair and give up. Our collective future, which is the sum total of the future of every tower and band, is therefore uncertain and I believe that we stand a better chance of a bright next century if we get our web presence as good as we are capable of making it.

Most (though not all) bands see their ultimate purpose as ringing for church services, and ours is no exception. The relationship between each band and its own church community would be healthy and active, in an ideal world. I am fortunate to ring in a band that has regular interaction with the church community, we have reserved seats in pole position whenever we want them for a service, our band contains one of the Clergy, a church warden and the church Treasurer and Membership secretary, and the Vicar climbs our 100 stairs, in full regalia, to bless us on New Years Eve and eat mince pies with us. I am hugely delighted that, as a result of my relentless nagging, he has started to tweet, and is encouraging everyone from the church webmaster to the Sunday School and Choir, to tweet too! As with all the real-world aspects of bellringing, I have represented this on our tower web page with mutual hotlinks which carry a healthy amount of traffic.

I respect the importance of existing structures, hence my seat on the District Committee and my membership of the Dove Online team, but I also value the freedom to speak out “these are my own views” and tweeting (and now blogging) using Bellropsepider gives me that freedom in huge measure. If you disagree with my ideas or find errors on this site, I will listen. There is a reply box at the bottom of the page, and you can even phone me!

There are many many highly technically skilled people within the Exercise. In a programming competition I would be soundly beaten by most of the webmasters, I would be left standing on Twitter by many of the University Guild Tweeters, as a method ringer I am still on the intermediate slopes of Grandsire and Stedman. Many of the best design ideas that I have used on the District Website (like embedding Google Maps and calendars in the District Websites) have been picked up from other webmasters who have unstintingly answered my questions and helped me to find my feet. Likewise on many issues of design I am hugely grateful to my local bellringing friends for pointing out deficiencies in the District Site.

All I have to offer in my quest for this vision of the future, is my belief in the future of bellringing, a love of the internet, and the time and patience to sit down (sometimes in the real world, more often online) with ordinary bellringers as they get their heads round Twitter, Facebook, WordPress or Google to try to encourage their friends to ring more often, more expertly, and have more fun. From time to time I even knock together a few lines of html for another webmaster to help them with the one-off task of embedding Twitter in their tower page. Like a lot of things on the web, it can take two hours the first time and thereafter two minutes!

Rosalind Martin

PS I’ve rambled long enough. It’s your turn to write something now, in the Reply box below.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s