If you're going to waste time, do it right


November 06, 2005|By TROY MCCULLOUGH

A study released last month by Advertising Age claims that 35 million American workers spend an average of 3 1/2 hours a week shirking their work duties to read blogs. That's a 40-minute blog break a day for one-fourth of the nation's workforce.

Today's column is dedicated to those 40 minutes.

The only thing worse than wasting your boss' time would be to waste company time on the wrong blogs. So here's a guided tour guaranteed to lower your productivity even further, but try to keep up. We're on a schedule.

Step One, five minutes: obscurestore.com, a blog full of headlines that you won't find on the front page, such as: "Wisconsin family learns their missing cat is in France," "Woman is convinced she sees Jesus on a tree," and "Dead woman was thought to be a Halloween prank." Unlike The Onion, all the headlines here are real.

Step Two, 10 minutes: boingboing.net, a site that calls itself "a directory of wonderful things." It's a smart, eclectic, informative and fun blog run by intelligent people very much at the center of today's Web culture. If a topic is creating an Internet buzz, often it's because Boing Boing is writing about it. Notable recent entries include a script that mashes up Plato's Republic and Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs, and information on an opera based on Strunk and White's Elements of Style.

Step Three, five minutes: postsecret.blogspot.com. People submit anonymous postcards with confessions written on them, and they're posted on this site. The entries are sometimes hilarious, sometimes chilling, but always compelling. Examples: "I didn't tell my wife our son was injured in Iraq. He goes back in March." Or, "I made a student repeat a grade so I could flirt with his father for one more year."

Step Four, eight minutes: gizmodo.com and engadget.com. These two sites are like toy stores for gadget-obsessed adults. You'll find the latest in cameras, phones, PDAs, peripherals and everything in between highlighted here. A word of warning: Watch your wallet.

Step Five, two minutes: gofugyourself.typepad.com, a guilty-pleasure blog dedicated to tearing poorly dressed celebrities to shreds. After a few entries, you almost start to feel sorry for the fashion-challenged targets of this site's ire. Almost.

Step Six, five minutes: overheardinnewyork.com and its partner site overheardintheoffice.com. Overheard conversations pop up on these blogs all day long. From the New York site: "Little girl: `Mommy, I'm getting wet! I don't want to get wet!' Mommy: `Yeah? Well, I'm getting wet too, Samantha! That's life!'"

Final Stop, five minutes: slashfood.com, an unbelievably active group site about all things related to food. Recent entries include a look at the seasonal varieties of Clif Bars, information about a Darth Vader butter sculpture and comparisons among various pasta sauces. A perfect primer for your lunch break.

So there you have it - 40 minutes of time well wasted. And as frequently as these sites update, now would be a good time to go back to Step One and repeat the process.

But don't forget, there's work to be done.


More Troy McCullough On Blogs columns can be found at baltimoresun.com/onblogs.

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