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Sydney tells me that if I don't do at least two posts I'm cheaping out, letting the team down. Which is fine, except for certain non-Joel-like individuals, blogging isn't exactly as natural as breathing. Even for that pathetic little post this morning, I was up at 3 a.m. worrying about it. I went into this long thing about a conversation Joel and I once had about the nature of coincidence and was going to work it into a Tom's Dumb Question, but then I thought it was too dumb even for Tom. (Then I watched the rain come down and worried about whether I needed to get the sump pump pumping, which devolved into me worrying that I might not even have a sump pump, or possibly even know what one was. Home maintenance, apparently, joins the list of things that don't necessarily come naturally to me, right under blogging.)

But now that I now what a drain blogging can be, I'm wondering how allowing Joel to blog constantly can be consistent with my fiduciary responsibility to The Washington Post Company. Joel represents a substantial capital investment, and no doubt he is depreciating rapidly. Shouldn't we be concerned with maximizing his production for our premier product--squeeze him for more cover stories and breaking fluff for other sections, for instance--before we discard his spent hulk? Or could his blogging be cost-justified if we consider that time spent blogging is time he would have otherwise spent calling up adult websites, making personal long distance phone calls and chatting up attractive females in his work environment--all of which are even less value-added than this little circus act.

And they say that corporate management doesn't ask the big questions.

By Joel Achenbach  |  July 8, 2005; 4:20 PM ET
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Oh, fixed. I'll repeat my comment from the last blog. I believe Joel's continued blogging is cost-effective, and I'm not just saying that because I enjoy this blog and don't want it to go away . . .

Posted by: Sara | July 8, 2005 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Blogging is the way of the future, and Joel seems to do it so effortlessly. Having him work on the Achenblog seems like a sound allocation of resources to me.

Posted by: Achenfan | July 8, 2005 4:35 PM | Report abuse

You were going to do a Tom's Dumb Question on the nature of coincidence, and then decided not to? Oh, what torment. Would that you had never mentioned it!

Posted by: Dreamer | July 8, 2005 4:40 PM | Report abuse

If you think blogging's hard, imagine how hard it is making knowledgeable yet amusing comments to them during "work" hours.

We walk this high wire *without editors*, no less.

Imagine how much funnier some of us would appear if there were someone to correct our spelling, grammar, or better yet,tell us that what we were writing was not actually funny, but in fact *stupid*.


Posted by: bc | July 8, 2005 4:45 PM | Report abuse

Weingarten has admitted that he pretty much combs through his chats for new material. So, if Joel hasn't thought of that yet, you might want to suggest it as a ways of meeting your efficiency quotas.

Posted by: beaurocrat | July 8, 2005 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Question - how does a blog compare to a chat room. I have a relative who hangs out in a lot of chat rooms, and in the past I always kind of thought she should go out and make some real friends. Now I find myself hanging out on this blog for hours at a time. The real question is whether or not I still have a right to feel superior to my chat-room loving relative.

Posted by: bostonreader | July 8, 2005 4:48 PM | Report abuse

So, Bossman, Joel "represents a substantial capital investment". I suggest that we are heading into an Achenboom, and need only fear an Achenbubble. Nontheless I would advocate an aggressive position in Achenfutures, lest he be swept up by the dreaded competition and you suffer an Achengap!

Posted by: kurosawaguy | July 8, 2005 4:49 PM | Report abuse

If you were attending that Aspen Institute soiree for rich media types, you would probably hear how valuable the Achenblog is to the future solvency of your operation. Lo, maybe the Achenblog is the newspaper equivalent of the sump pump--siphoning off the random thoughts that might otherwise be flooding (plugging up?) the free flow of ideas and information that the Washington Post offers to its readers.

Posted by: twinsmom | July 8, 2005 4:49 PM | Report abuse

the main problem with wasting time chatting up attractive female co-workers is that is distracts from BOTH workers time. it is far better from a manager's perspective to have your lazy male co-workers calling hard-working female workers at *other firms* on the telephone to distract them.

now that's value added!

Posted by: edward | July 8, 2005 4:50 PM | Report abuse

I used to be addicted to Live Online chats, but I've gone the 12-step route and replaced one addiction with another -- Achenblog. Compared with the 'blog, those chats are so unsatisfying, so 2004.

Posted by: Addict | July 8, 2005 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Ouch. You've cut me to the quick. Can't you be addicted to both? I mean, even junkies drink beer sometimes.

Posted by: Chatwoman | July 8, 2005 5:11 PM | Report abuse

seriously - I need to understand the difference between and blog and a chat room. I realize that I am probably filling in for Tom here by asking a dumb question - if there really is ANY SUCH THING as a dumb question. No need to thank me, Tom.

Posted by: bostonreader | July 8, 2005 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Chatwoman is here! Sorry, CW. I tried being addicted to both, but I was worried my work would suffer. Priorities . . .
I'm sure there are still plenty of others who need their daily chat fix.

Posted by: Addict | July 8, 2005 5:18 PM | Report abuse

Is that THE Chatwoman?

Posted by: jw | July 8, 2005 5:20 PM | Report abuse

P.S. I also like the fact that the Achenblog is less of a dirty-old-man's chat compared with some chats that I won't mention here.

Posted by: Addict | July 8, 2005 5:20 PM | Report abuse

I think the difference between the blog and the chat room are the topics discussed. Not a definitive answer because I realize many chat rooms are dedicated to topics like we discuss. I'm referring to the general chat rooms when I say this.

Posted by: Sara | July 8, 2005 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Hey bostonreader: I don't know much about chat rooms, but here's what I'd guess. A blog without the comments function enabled is merely a blog. The "blog" part is the collection of observations, etc., by the blog's host/owner, in this case Joel. The collection of comments under each blog entry could be thought of as a kind of chat room, I suppose. People wander in any time they want and talk to each other. Sometimes Joel wanders in too, but not always.
So: It's time to face the fact that you're a chat room junkie.

Posted by: Tom fan | July 8, 2005 5:28 PM | Report abuse

I'd like to thank twinsmom for working the phrase "sump pump" into her post.

Thank you, twinsmom.

Posted by: Baggins | July 8, 2005 6:22 PM | Report abuse

I'm thinking of shorting Achenstocks. Too much froth around here.

Posted by: day trading | July 8, 2005 9:05 PM | Report abuse

Tom fan and Sara - thanks for the clarification.
Well, I guess I will still feel superior because I chat HERE - on the best blog/chat site in the known galaxy (not that I am not ruling out other unknown sites in other unknown galaxies - I don't want to get Tom Cruise after me for being arrogant).

Posted by: bostonreader | July 9, 2005 1:46 PM | Report abuse

It seems to me that this blog is more like a chat than most blogs--they mostly consist of one very opinionated person writing about whatever crosses his mind, and some other people responding to the main post. (Not much back and forth among the commenters.)

Gene Weingarten's "chat," on the other hand, is more like a blog than a chatroom, because people submit questions and he chooses the ones he wants to answer, and there's a time limit. A real chatroom happens in real time, with everybody online at the same time.

Achenblog reminds me of the graffitti boards we used to have in college--whenever you passed by you could see what others had written and then if you wanted to you could write a response to whatever, and someone else could later pass by and repond to your response.

Communication is cool.

Posted by: kbertocci | July 9, 2005 6:53 PM | Report abuse

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