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The Office Time Machine
March 24, 2014 11:19 AM   Subscribe

Time travel, Dunder Mifflin-style. Over the last 18 months, filmmaker and digital artist Joe Sabia indexed every cultural reference from The Office, over 1,300 mentions across all 190 episodes, and used Wikipedia to find their year of origin. With the help of programmer Aaron Rasmussen, he built the The Office Time Machine to navigate it all, year-by-year, in historical order.

You might remember Joe from his recent frenetic 73 questions in five minutes with Sarah Jessica Parker, and as cofounder of Internet music collective CDZA.
posted by waxpancake (17 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
A video of some of them still needing identification. I'm guessing there are a lot of other missing ones as well. I thought it was going to be a hidden thing - like references you didn't realize were references. Not having a character say "post it notes" or mentioning "Robert Parish" and noting those. It's like Pop-up video, but without any neat facts.
posted by cashman at 11:32 AM on March 24


I called the Anthracite Heritage Museum, but they're closed on Mondays.
posted by box at 11:41 AM on March 24


This is really incredible. I guess I could see how it was created if you create a master file of trivia by year, then do deep searches of the transcripts and use a system that can grab video from transcripts, but even still, it's an amazing piece of work.
posted by mathowie at 11:43 AM on March 24


Kobayashi Maru'd the whole process? Is it just me or is that wrong? Or maybe I don't understand the process.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:45 AM on March 24


And I did not become a Lackawanna County volunteer sheriff's deputy to make friends. And by the way, I haven't
posted by Chrysostom at 11:46 AM on March 24 [2 favorites]


Yeah, that one should be in 1982, not 2001.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 11:51 AM on March 24


It's odd that "Heeere's Johnny!" has become a "Shining" reference, rather than a "Tonight Show" reference.
posted by neroli at 12:19 PM on March 24 [6 favorites]


Kobayashi Maru'd the whole process yt ? Is it just me or is that wrong? Or maybe I don't understand the process.

How could you be nerdy enough to want to do this at all and not know about the Kobayashi Maru? That's bizarre. It's bizarre enough to make me wonder if the whole thing isn't some kind of weird meta joke around that one error.
posted by yoink at 12:36 PM on March 24 [4 favorites]


dude has too much time machine on his hands
posted by thelonius at 12:37 PM on March 24 [1 favorite]


This is pretty incredible, in almost a literal way since I'm still not entirely sure I believe that it exists even after watching everything from before the 20th century. On that note, there's a little bit of an Easter egg if you put in a year earlier than 3500 BC.
posted by Copronymus at 12:44 PM on March 24 [1 favorite]


My first reaction was, "Yes, but why?" and then I saw the Easter Egg. Now I know why.
posted by gern at 12:54 PM on March 24


My first reaction was, "Yes, but why?"

I had a similar initial reaction but, upon reflection, it's sort of neat to see the stuff that has endured enough to be an easily recognizable pop culture reference in the 21st century. Some of it isn't surprising, like the American Revolution, but there are some stories and songs and phrases and figures that are sort of generally accepted knowledge and I thought it was interesting to see how many of these things are still easily recognizable even after hundreds or thousands of years and it gave me a chance to think about what makes something enduring which I appreciated.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 1:14 PM on March 24


Kobayashi Maru'd the whole process? Is it just me or is that wrong? Or maybe I don't understand the process.


If you search google for just "Kobayashi", you come up with the competitive eater.


How could you be nerdy enough to want to do this at all and not know about the Kobayashi Maru?

I got nothing for that.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 2:39 PM on March 24 [1 favorite]


In episode called The Convict, Martin Nash says: “I got involved in some insider trading, so I spent a little time in the clink”. The Clink was a real London prison, known by that name since the 16th Century, and it's been a generic term for any prison for almost as long.

Bet they missed that one.
posted by Paul Slade at 2:48 PM on March 24


Neat, but is "the Clink" referencing the London prison?

Is calling someone a "guy" referencing Guy Fawkes?

Maybe. Intentionality or unintentionality of references make for interesting questions.
posted by So You're Saying These Are Pants? at 3:34 PM on March 24


How could you be nerdy enough to want to do this at all and not know about the Kobayashi Maru?

Patrick Stewart: I will "Make It So."
[blank look from Andy]
Patrick Stewart: You've seen "Star Trek: The Next Generation?"
Andy Millman: I haven't, no.
Patrick Stewart: Why? Your wife won't let you have it on?
Andy Millman: I'm not married.
Patrick Stewart: Oh, your girlfriend then?
Andy Millman: I haven't got a girlfriend either. I live alone.
Patrick Stewart: You're not married, you haven't got a girlfriend... and you've never watched "Star Trek?"
Andy Millman: No.
Patrick Stewart: Good Lord...
posted by Freon at 9:01 PM on March 24 [5 favorites]


Culture Enriches Everything: Fair Use and The Office Time Machine
posted by KatlaDragon at 6:50 AM on March 25 [1 favorite]


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