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Archive for January 2013

WEIRD SILENCE in Toowoomba: TC Oswald aftermath

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MONDAY JANUARY 28 2013, an eerie silence has fallen over Toowoomba. The howling wind, driving rain and the bumping of things on the roof and around the place has gone after being ever present for three days. I strain to hear something—ah! There’s a birdcall or two (have not heard them for days), a car drives down the street … and then there’s nothing again.

The s-s-plash emptying the rain gauge is a very benign sound, and then I realise what the difference is … there is none of the constant noise of the B-Double trucks, the 8,000 of them that grind through Toowoomba every day. Every highway in-or-out of town is closed.

I hear more birds and sun is coming out—there is something of a Toowoomba experience of the past, a kind of déjà vu, perhaps even nostalgia for a time before trucks took over this town.

From Doug

UPDATE: January 29 – the ‘noise’ has started again…


Truck noise   PHOTO: Victoria Cooper

Truck noise PHOTO: Victoria Cooper

Written by Cooper+Spowart

January 29, 2013 at 4:27 am


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Emptying the rain gauge for the third time since Friday – Another 120mm – I didn’t empty it on Sunday as the outside weather conditions were too nasty.

Tipping out the rain guage again  PHOTO: Doug Spowart

Tipping out the rain guage again PHOTO: Doug Spowart

We went out just now after being cooped up by the weather. Lots of bits of trees, occasional branches, eroded footpaths and water running everywhere. East Creek at the bottom of our street is fairly tame and seems to have contained itself throughout the deluge—nothing like January 10, 2011. (SEE the image below)

2011 FLOOD - Burns St Toowoomba  PHOTO: Doug Spowart

2011 FLOOD – Burns St Toowoomba PHOTO: Doug Spowart

Our thoughts are with friends, acquaintances and people who we don’t know at this time who are experiencing significant hardship as a result of ex-cyclone Oswald.

Drains East Creek near Margaret St, Toowoomba  Photo: Doug Spowart

Drains East Creek near Margaret St, Toowoomba Photo: Doug Spowart

East Creek Toowoomba near Queens Park  Photo: Doug Spowart

East Creek Toowoomba near Queens Park Photo: Doug Spowart

East Creek Toowoomba near Herries St Toowoomba  Photo: Doug Spowart

East Creek whirlpool near Herries St Toowoomba Photo: Doug Spowart

OLYEast Creek Toowoomba along Kitchener St Toowoomba  Photo: Doug Spowart

East Creek along Kitchener St Toowoomba Photo: Doug Spowart

Fallen tree Margaret Street residence  PHOTO: Doug Spowart

Fallen tree Margaret Street residence PHOTO: Doug Spowart

Tethered pot plants  PHOTO: Doug Spowart

Tethered pot plants in the garage to stop them blowing away   PHOTO: Doug Spowart

More stories Toowoomba Chronicle – Click HERE

Stay Safe ….

Doug + Vicky

Written by Cooper+Spowart

January 28, 2013 at 11:10 am

PHOTOGRAPHER’S NIGHTMARE: Client returns faded wedding album after nearly 40 years!!

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Not many people would pick me as a wedding photographer – Well, I’ve been to many, shot a few and even been employed as the wedding photographer. One of my photographs was the highest scoring wedding photograph at the AIPP Awards in 1991, and in the mid 1990s, I won the award ‘Queensland Innovative Wedding Photographer of the Year’ on two occasions. Masquerading as a wedding album, one of my artists books is even held in the State Library of Queensland’s rare books collection. SEE: http://srlopac.slq.qld.gov.au/cgi-bin/Pwebrecon.cgi?BBID=1381161

My wedding photography ‘career’ began auspiciously, as I guess most photographers do – with a family wedding. I was a naive 18 year old studying photography part-time at the College of Art in Brisbane. At the time I was working with an old Mamiya C33 and an M3 Leica with a Metz 202 flash, and the idea of shooting a wedding an adventure. At the time I was working at Kodak and some of my clients helped me out with advice and the ‘slip your prints in’ album that was the final outcome for the project.

All went to plan – I did the bride in the mirror at home, in the church during the ceremony with flash, the bride and groom walking up the isle, a quasi-documentary bride ‘n’ groom outside the church, family groups, bride and groom in the rear window of the car and the cake cutting. My brother Garry did marry Sheridan Draisey at All Saints Church and I had the photos to prove it.

Wedding mosaic

Wedding mosaic

Kodak printed the images; probably at their colour lab in Sydney as the Brisbane lab was still doing black and white processing exclusively. The prints were slipped into the pages and passed on to the happy couple.

Time passes…

A few years ago I heard through the family grapevine that the album was falling apart and that images were fading. I wonder how many photographers experience this fear of whether their goods and services will last and the possibility of the disgruntled client appearing from the past with faded, leuco-cyan (reddish) or yellowed prints and the grunge of time coating everything? Eventually I was reunited with the album and its sorry condition. What to do?

The original album

The original album

I scanned the images and used simple Adobe Photoshop techniques to remove casts and reconstitute faded colours. All images were reprinted on inkjet pigments and archival papers and the pages fitted into a new album cover. A CD-Rom was included loaded with the restored jpeg images. The original album was assembled as best as possible, wrapped archivally and inserted into a container for safe keeping and the new album similarly presented.

Before & after Adobe Photoshop restoration

Before & after Adobe Photoshop restoration

On the next convenient occasion the album was represented to the client (my sister-in-law). She excitedly reviewed the album and recounted the wedding, and the stories of those in the group photos were updated – even perhaps made alive by their remembrance and telling.

The New Album

The New Album

My experience made me think about how photographers constantly push ‘photo memories’ as a selling point for choosing a professional photographer for important events. And I wondered how often the pro photographer’s images may, as in this case, not last as well as everyone might have expected. I came to also reflect upon how memories are recreated through photographs and how important the photograph of times past is for people – particularly as they age.

As the photographer and re-creator of the album I was rewarded by the experience and how many a faded image may be restored to its memorable potential by Adobe Photoshop. It is interesting how digital imaging was once touted as being the death of photography – it may very well be its salvation.

Doug Spowart

The photographer in the wedding group with brothers Garry and Peter

The photographer in the wedding group with brothers Garry and Peter


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Dr Doug opens the FOTO FRENZY Photographic Centre in Brisbane

The much awaited reopening of the expanded FOTO FRENZY Photographic Centre in Coorparoo took place on Friday, January 18, 2013. Attended by a crowd of around 100 well-wishers the event heralded a new beginning for dilettantes of a wide range of photography interests including:

  • photography workshops
  • photographic gallery
  • fine art printing, mounting and framing
  • photographic darkroom hire
  • studio hire
  • one-on-one consultations
Mark photographs the Foto Frenzy Team  PHOTO: Victoria Cooper

Mark photographs the Foto Frenzy Team PHOTO: Victoria Cooper

The FOTO FRENZY space is shared with BRISBANE CAMERA HIRE, specialist in providing a range of photographic gear and unusual accessories.

The Foto Frenzy team includes Brisbane photo identities Ian Poole, Cam Attree, Tony Holden and Darren Jew. All four are photographers and have specialist areas of activity from photography as art, to location and underwater photography, nude and glamour photography and photography as personal expression. Darren Jew is well known in photo workshop circles for the ‘Faces and Places’ workshop that he established with Jim McKitrick in the late 1980s.

The Foto Frenzy Team l-r Darren Jew, Tony Holden, Cam Attreee, Ian Poole and Susan BCH  PHOTO: Victoria Cooper

The team l-r Darren Jew, Tony Holden, Cam Attreee, Ian Poole and Susan BCH PHOTO: Victoria Cooper

The Foto Frenzy team have been together for twelve months in a modest facility just a short distance away from the new home. Now with the larger facility and the linkup with Susan & Jacob and Brisbane Camera Hire new and amazing opportunities for the business and the clients that they service are available.

Doug Spowart opens Foto Frenzy  PHOTO: Victoria Cooper

Doug Spowart opens Foto Frenzy PHOTO: Victoria Cooper

As someone with a history in photography that connects with most of the Foto Frenzy team, as well as being a former Director of the photo gallery and workshopImagery Gallery, (that operated in Brisbane from 1980-1995), I was asked to open the new Foto Frenzy Photographic Centre. Some of my comments in the opening speech were…

 The other day I was made aware of a TIME magazine article in which the claim was made that 10% of all the photographs ever made in the over 170 year history of photography were made in 2012!! This statement is evidence that with digital photography, including the now ubiquitous mobile phone, means that anyone can take photographs—But does that mean that everyone IS a photographer? My opinion is no—Because there is something special in the blood of the photographer that enables them, or demands of them, that just seeing and snapping isn’t enough.

True photographers want to ‘craft’ and create images that are about significant visual communication. Sometimes powerful, sometimes sublime, sometimes nonsensical or humorous and sometimes, perhaps even bland and boring. We know of these kinds of photographs because they tell us about beauty in the world, of atrocity, of feast, famine and of love and the human condition. These images inspire us and drive us, perhaps even spur us on to be better photographers ourselves—and this is where we encounter the need for networking, training, nurturing support, guidance and technology support. This is where the Foto Frenzy suite of services will link with our lives.

I congratulate the Foto Frenzy team and Brisbane Camera Hire for their vision, entrepreneurship and financial commitment in establishing this photographic centre. And what I see are the great opportunities for those of us interested in being a part of what photography is, and where it is goingto have a place that will be a hub, or should I say, a frenzied hive of activity.

It is with great pleasure that I declare the Foto Frenzy centre open…. 

Ian Poole in his thank you advised the attendees that Cooper and Spowart were to be, in a couple of months, the Foto Frenzy’s first Artists in Residence.

SPECIAL NOTE: We will be conducting a range of workshops @ Foto Frenzy over the following months. The topics of our workshops and consultations will include aspects of our PhD research into photobooks, creative photography practice, narrative and story telling in the photo sequence and aspects of social media, in particular Linkedin, Blogs and YouTube. We will also be available for one-on-one project/concept development.

To let us know you would like to be advised of the workshops when they become available  

Contact us <Greatdivide@a1.com.au>

Foto Frenzy @ Corparoo, cnr Old Cleveland & Bennets Rds  PHOTO: Doug Spowart

Foto Frenzy @ Corparoo, cnr Old Cleveland & Bennets Rds PHOTO: Doug Spowart

The The Foto Frenzy Gallery PHOTO: Victoria Cooper

The Foto Frenzy Gallery PHOTO: Victoria Cooper

Doug Spowart and Victoria Cooper in the Foto Frenzy Photobooth

Doug Spowart and Victoria Cooper in the Foto Frenzy Photobooth

Foto Frenzy opening shadows  PHOTO: Doug Spowart

Foto Frenzy opening shadows PHOTO: Doug Spowart

Cheers Doug and Victoria


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When a community challenges its elected representatives

On January 11th we attended a public meeting to join the protest against a Toowoomba Range development that would change the nature of a highly visible part of our town and diminish liveability values of an area close to where we live—the background of the protest and personal reflections on the meeting follow…

St Lukes Church - Toowoomba Range Public Meeting  Photo: Doug Spowart

St Lukes Church – Toowoomba Range Public Meeting ………Photo: Doug Spowart

At a special meeting of the Toowoomba Regional Council on December 21st approval was given to a major commercial development at the ‘Top of the Range’—the main road transport entry to Toowoomba. The development, it is claimed, is required to service the needs of the local community with a McDonalds, a KFC and a convenience store that will operate 24 hours per day. The development is conditional on the installation of traffic lights, by the developer, at the intersection of the Warrego Highway (Cohoe Street) and Herries Streets.

It is claimed that responses provided by the community against the development in the pre-approval stage were not adequately considered in the Council’s decision.

Concerned residents called the protest meeting at St Luke’s Church because the development was given the go ahead despite their objections and those from other stakeholders. As the area is currently mainly residential with adjoining motels and a service station their objections included the 24 hour presence of:

  • safety issues of the proximity of the traffic lights at the crest of the Range creating mayhem for trucks and busses—gearboxes, clutches, mechanical and loading problems that may require breakdown vehicles and Range holdup and delays;
  • traffic/car park noise;
  • overnight carpark lighting; and
  • cooking odours permeating the local environment.
I have a question ...    Photo: Doug Spowart

‘I have a question’ …   .. Photo: Doug Spowart

The meeting was chaired by East Toowoomba resident Kate Powell and those addressing the meeting included State Government members Trevor Watts & John McVeigh, TWU state secretary Peter Biagini and councillor Mike Williams. Questions and comments from the floor were clapped, hissed and booed depending on the feelings of those in attendance. Councillor Mike Williams was indeed a brave man to attend such a meeting however his answers provided understanding of council process and procedures—he refrained from answering questions relating to the specific council decision to approve the development. He did comment that he had voted against the development in the December Council meeting.

The Second Toowoomba Range crossing was a side issue, but one which stirred the crowd. They were advised that authorities felt that the current crossing would be satisfactory for traffic densities of up to 23,000 vehicles daily and that was expected to be by the year 2020—BUT that number of vehicles is using the crossing every day NOW!  And … 25% of those vehicles are heavy transport.

Traffic jam after truck breakdown - Toowoomba Range  Photo: Victoria Cooper

Traffic jam after truck breakdown, 10-01-2013 – Toowoomba Range ………Photo: Victoria Cooper

Members of the audience voiced their emotional outcries as well:

  • ‘What an ugly entry this will provide to the our Garden City’;
  • ‘What have you done to my beautiful city’; and
  • ‘How can you approve another ‘fast food’ outlet in this town … there are already 7 in Toowoomba?’

It was agreed that the Council’s decision would be challenged by the appeal process and to achieve that a committee of nine members were selected from the floor. One attendee quipped that: ‘For council to fight a legal battle derived from this meeting they will use the money of those ratepayers here tonight protesting!’ And a legal battle is where this protest is leading…

What we felt important is the recognition that government, council or administrative bodies need to consider that commercial ‘development’ should go hand-in-hand with community values.

Dr Doug Spowart

The protest group has established a website called FRIENDS OF THE TOOWOOMBA RANGE – To visit click HERE

For more information see the links to some Chronicle Newspaper reports:



XMAS STREET NOCTURNE: A new site project

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On the road and in the street


In past years after a day’s travelling doing fieldwork we usually aim for an overnight stay in a country town to rest for the night before attacking the road again.  On arrival in the town we drive down the main street to inspect the available/affordable accommodation options. By nightfall we are usually ensconced in the motel room: organising our day’s imaging, catching up with emails, dinner and so on. The next day we move on . . .

This year during our summer field trip, motivated by the results of our recent Wooli Nocturne Project, we decided to document at twilight an aspect of each town where we stayed. This meant arriving early so that we could walk down the main street before sunset. Our objective was to survey the site-specific arrangement of town’s Xmas display, (whether present or absent), and identify features that at dusk would also be artificially illuminated. Returning later we would shoot under the deep blue/magenta skies of the early evening and the night lights.

Albury-Chemist Discounts_6916-72

In this work we are not alone, as photographers across the history of the art have used this montage of artificial and natural light effects to document urban environments. The development of this work has been influenced over time by a sustained interest in artists like Edward Hopper and Jeffrey Smart, and the photographers Eugène Atget, Brassaï, William Eggleston, Joel Meyerowitz, Gregory Crewdson and Brian Brake. More recently in Australia, artists and photographers notably Bill Henson and Mark Kimber have also explored aspects of this genre.


Recognising that the inherent nature of this transient light evokes the uncanny, an unseen presence or the interstitial filmic moment captured as a still is fundamental to our project. In this work the documentary photograph is not just a record of the idiosyncratic nature of each town’s main street and its Xmas light show as in these lighting conditions everyday objects are transformed from their daytime function. The prosaic nature of these towns, when photographed in the dusk light, becomes part of a found aesthetic: a site-specific monument to nocturnal light; a visual narrative of light, colour and form.

Xmas Street Nocturne: A site-specific project by Victoria Cooper + Doug Spowart

5 January 2013



Towns and cities imaged:

  • Albury
  • Bright
  • Coonabarabran
  • Cowra
  • Narrabri
  • Narrandera
  • Toowoomba


__Bright_wet-street-6809-72 __BRIGHT-Bike_Rack_6814-72 __BRIGHT-ChurchLt_6831-72 __BRIGHT-Street_Corner_6822-72 __BRIGHT-wet_street2_6824-72 __COROWA-Lane+Car_7078-72 __COWRA-3Facades_7044-72 __COWRA-Motel_7032-72 __COWRA-Steeple_7013-72 __Narr-Backstreet_5961-72 __Narr-Bank_5958-72 __NARR-Best_7160-72 __NARR-Macdonalds_7125-72 __Narr-Pub_5949-72 __Narr-Railway_5928-72 __NARR-Solictitors_7168-72 __Narr-Sprinklers_5946-72 __Narra-Palms_7153-72

2012 FIELD STUDY MAIL ART PROJECT: Our contribution

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On December 7, 2012 we mailed off to David Dellafiora in Geelong our contribution to the 2012 Field Study. We met David at the Artspace Mackay Artists Book Forum in 2010 where he presented a lecture on mail art and coordinated a collaborative project which dealt with the idea of the assembling book as a democratic multiple.

David_Dellafiora Photo: Doug Spowart

David Dellafiora Photo: Doug Spowart


David Dellafiora is a quietly spoken person and not one to push his significant history and activities in the world of mail art. He was however an enthusiastic distributor of A5 fliers, call-to-action invitations to participate in numerous mail art projects that he coordinates. Field Study, Kart, Wipe and others are projects that are essentially ‘assembling books’, where artists worldwide submit multiple artworks by mail to David. At specific times throughout the year David coordinates a team that assembles, packages and mails out to all contributors a copy of the compiled project. A part of the production run is retained with copies being offered for sale to artists, galleries and collectors. The income from this activity finances the production costs and the return postage. Field Study publications are included artists book collections such as the V&A, Museum of Modern Art New York, State Library of Victoria and the Ruth & Marvin Sackner Archive of Concrete & Visual Poetry.

The Field Study contributions are called emanations and can include all kinds of things including: ‘documentations of performances, actions and exhibitions, tracts, rants, instructions, manifestoes, reflections and experiments.’ A selection of pages can be seen in the illustrations from last year’s report at the end of this post. They are a mashup of Fluxus, DaDa, Surrealist inspired, zine-ish paste-up, rubber stamps, torn up letter ransom notes and concrete poetry. In its assembled form the power of Field Report is apparent as it becomes a snapshot of artistic, social and/or political commentary on the times that are current at the time of its publication.


Our Field Study infographic about extractive mining industries in the Seurat Basin

Our Field Study infographic about extractive mining industries in the Surat Basin


This year we contributed a piece that related to our commentary on extractive mining industries overtaking our regional communities. This is a variant to the Artists’ Survey Book #12 that has featured in past WOTWEDID posts. The page was printed using a high quality photocopier and each page, 100 in all, were signed and numbered by both of us. It was remarkable to see our workbench covered with the repeating pattern of 100 pages taking up an area of about 3 square metres.


Signing our contribution

Signing our contribution


We look forward to receiving a package from Field Study International later on this year. And, for anyone interested in future Field Study projects, check out the Field Study Blog or review some of the accompanying documents that follow in this blog post.




The call for 2012 contributions

The call for 2012 contributions


2011 Field Report cover

2011 Field Report cover


2011 Field Report pages

2011 Field Report pages

2011 Field Report

2011 Field Report

2011 Field Report pages

2011 Field Report pages

A page of participants - 2011 Field Report

A page of participants – 2011 Field Report


Kart Mail Art Project

Kart Mail Art Project


2013 SABBATICAL for Doug+Victoria: A ‘Leap of Faith’

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Dr Doug consulting Casper David Freidricks re 2013 sabbatical

Dr Doug consulting Casper David Friedrichs re 2013 sabbatical, The Cathedral, Mt Buffalo.

In the year 2000 we began our involvement in higher academic study at Monash University in Post Graduate Diploma study. Since then, except for a small break in 2003, we continued our university research and art practice. Throughout this period we maintained both our arts practice and working at TAFE where Doug was full-time employed as a teacher and Victoria worked as a sessional teacher.  All holidays and long service leave was consumed by the demands of study, research and at times a busy exhibition and private lecture programme. The hard work and study culminated last year (2012) with Doug being awarded Doctor of Philosophy at James Cook University in May, and Victoria submitting her PhD for final examination in late November.

Now, as we head into 2013, we are taking time out to pursue our post-doctorial research interests, opportunities to present and share our specialist knowledge and skills and to re-connect with our professional practice as artists and commentators on contemporary issues. It is a ‘self-funded sabbatical’. To finance this venture we intend to generate opportunities that may include ‘cloud funded projects’, artists in residencies, specialist workshops, seminars and consultancies, and sessional teaching or lecturing. We are also open to projects that may become available through our connections.

To up date you on our current interests and professional activities we include the following:

Doug: Social media and its applications within creative practice and personal communication; assembling and writing a critical commentary about Australian photobooks from 1900-2000; the narrative form of the hybrid photobook and the elevation of the print-on-demand photobook into a higher order of visual communication.

Victoria: Maintain a review of contemporary science/art interdisciplinary research as an accepted practice in academic institutions. Special interest in: the scientist, the artist and intuition; the historical use of visual art practice as information within scientific publications; Montage Thinking, as a mode for visual thinking and intellectual discourse through visual and non-visual information.

This adventure is somewhat a ‘leap of faith’ and as such we have created a blog onto which we will post sabbatical related content – we will invite to view this site when it comes online. This WOTWEDID blog will continue as our broader commentary platform – on occasion dual postings may occur. Other special research interest blogs will also emerge and you will be advised of opportunities to connect with their content.

Please contact us if you see any opportunities to support our ‘leap of faith’ sabbatical.

We wish you all an exciting 2013 New Year and look forward to perhaps connecting with you, and also connecting you with, commentaries about the issues of our shared interests.


Victoria and Doug

A 2013 lunch planning meeting at The Horn @ Mt Buffalo on 12.12.12

A 2013 lunch planning meeting at The Horn @ Mt Buffalo on 12.12.12


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The crowd @ Toowoomba New Years Eve fireworks display Photo: Doug Spowart

The crowd @ Toowoomba’s Frogs Hollow New Years Eve fireworks display Photo: Doug Spowart

It seemed like 10,000 people attended the Toowoomba “Frogs Hollow” 2012-13 fireworks display last night creating traffic jams, pedestrian crossing dramas and footpath parking mayhem. The crowd ‘ooooo—d’ and ‘aaaaaah—d’ and dotted throughout the audience were the lights from hundreds of digital camera, iPhone and iPad view screens recording the event. Starting at 7.40pm EST the show was over in ten or so minutes and much of the crowd dispersed.

I’ve photographed my share of fireworks—the tripod, remote release, being in a position with a clear view (up wind), careful focus and exposure correct. This year I just worked with my point-and-shoot Olympus Pen hand held—3200 ISO, auto (out-o) focus, auto exposure-around a ¼ second, and intuitively firing the shutter.

Toowoomba New Years Eve fireworks display Photo: Doug Spowart

Toowoomba New Years Eve fireworks display Photo: Doug Spowart

Toowoomba New Years Eve fireworks display Photo: Doug Spowart

Toowoomba New Years Eve fireworks display Photo: Doug Spowart

Toowoomba New Years Eve fireworks display Photo: Doug Spowart

Toowoomba New Years Eve fireworks display Photo: Doug Spowart

Toowoomba New Years Eve fireworks display Photo: Doug Spowart

Toowoomba New Years Eve fireworks display Photo: Doug Spowart

Being IN the moment for me has created a different kind of view, and maybe one that closer represents the feeling of being there—“BOOM” “BOOM” “CRACKLE” and “POP”. Oh! I forgot the sound missing from stills. You will need to imagine that until I get the video function going—next year . . .

Traffic-cars and people @ Toowoomba New Years Eve fireworks display

Traffic-cars and people @ Toowoomba New Years Eve fireworks display

SEE the Toowoomba Chronicle report for more information


The WOTWEDID WordPress Blog 2012 in review

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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog. It contains some interesting data about WOTWEDID and the world of blogging.

As always we are interested in your feedback … And, HAPPY NEW YEAR.

From Vicky and Doug.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 9,900 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 17 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Written by Cooper+Spowart

January 1, 2013 at 4:04 am

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