An IT ringing trust? [was Musical scales, bell register]

John Baldwin Dovemaster at
Mon Dec 11 15:59:47 GMT 2006

--- In bellhistorians at, John Camp <camp at ...> wrote:
> I think there is a wider problem here ...
> But what happens when someone becomes unable to carry on or drops
> dead?  
> This may not be the right list to bring up this matter, but historians
> are concerned with maintaining records and continuity of information.
> Any thoughts?
> John Camp

This contribution of John Camp's could be taken to imply that some of
us do not adopt a "professional" approach to the job we are doing on
behalf of the CCCBR.  I can of course only speak for the work that I
personally have done / am doing on Dove, but it may serve to put
certain minds at rest.  

Providing one essential aspect is taken care of, I'd opine that the
question of the software that is used to "manipulate" the data, and
knowing how to use it, are really matters of minor importance.  What
IS the prime concern to everyone is whether the 'real data' that
comprises the essence of what people are interested in is easily
accessible if and when the inevitable happens.    

If you look at any Dove webpage you will find at the bottom rh corner
a link to dove.txt - and it is there that all the essential data is
available for anyone to use, simply by importing it into whatever
piece of software they prefer.  (You could import it all into a
spreadsheet if that is your whim - although I would not opine that
such is an efficient vehicle for its long-term maintenance.)  Guessing
what that software will be is almost certainly as unpredictable as
deciding who going to assume responsibility, for the latter is also a
vital decision.  Every different IT competent person will have their
own preference: some people will prefer Access, some SQL, etc, etc, -
and no reasonable piece of usable database software is without an
import capability and that should mean that the data is quickly usable
within a new environment.

Certainly some momentum will be lost while someone else develops their
own presentation / maintenance function and picks up speed on doing
that, but unless the Exercise is prepared to pay BIG money for a
professionally supported solution - AND pays to keep it being changed
as database software packages develop - I'd suggest that ensuring the
accessibility to the essential data actually addresses the fundamental

By the same token - although we do not make it quite as instantly and
easily accessible as is dove.txt, the proto-NBR details for all the
bells (and the founders) is very similarly held - so that if John
Baldwin were to drop dead today or tomorrow it would only need Sid
Baldwin (who is not a ringer) or key people within the CCCBR's ITC
Committee to provide access to the equivalent data of the proto-NBR as
it stands at the time of the last upload.  

There also is that matter of data and database software back-up.  I
hope that I have said enough already to imply also that we take a very
robust approach to making such back-ups, storing copies "off-site",
and on a numer of different machines - quite apart from that latest
copy of the data which sits on the CCCBR website.

As far as the conventional Dove pages and the software currently in
use are concerned, I personally am 'backed-up' by Tim Jackson knowing
how to use the database package that I use.  He keeps that going when
I am away: you all probably didn't notice (at least we hope that it
wasn't instantly visible) that while we were away in 2003 in New
Zealand and Australia for a significant period, and again in 2005 for
more than three weeks in America that Dove was kept fully functioning.
 Tim hasn't yet had a period of looking after the proto-NBR aspect as
well, but that follows similar principles and the approach there is
equivalent to that of the conventional pages, so I have little worry
that he couldn't quickly assimilate that if and when it becomes
necessary.  But that software base is not everyone's "cup of tea" -
and Tim may not be prepared to take its support over as a long term
proposition.  That is precisely why the CCCBR has given thought to the
concept of the "Steward of the Dove database" - as was reported by the
Administrative Committee to the 2006 meeting at Leicester.

What this amounts to is that question of making certain that
"succession planning" has been thought about.  I hope the foregoing
assures people that it has been not only thought about, but hopefully
properly addressed by those of us who look after Dove, both at the
"sharp end" and by the CCCBR officers, as fully they are able yet
recognising that we are working in a non-commercial environment.


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