Enjoy every cultural reference in "The Office"

"The Office" Time Machine is a catalog of 1,300 of the show's allusions, dating back to the beginning of time


Prachi Gupta
March 24, 2014 11:58PM (UTC)

Prepare to say goodbye to any ambitions of a productive work week, because you are about to spend all your time on "The Office" Time Machine, an Internet treasure that has attempted to catalog every cultural reference ever made in "The Office."

Working with programmer Aaron Rasmussen, master of puns Joe Sabia launched a site that lets viewers toggle to a specific year (B.C. or A.D.) and watch a mashup of 1,300 cultural references made in the nine-season show.

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For example, here are all the references regarding 0-1000 B.C.:

Here are allusions to events in 2001 A.D.:

The project took Sabia about a year and a half to complete. This was his process, detailed on his website:

Step 1: Order DVDs from Netflix (yes, people still do that)
Step 2: Watch an episode of “The Office”, ripped from DVD-ripping app Handbrake.
Step 3: Wait for any mention of a non-fictional reference. (i.e., a song, celebrity, logo, holiday, movie, TV show, quote…)
Step 4: Wikipedia each reference
Step 5: Designate the year each reference first hit society’s consciousness
Step 6: Write a quick informational blurb
Step 7: Repeat this process 1,300 or so times, in 189 more episodes of The Office, covering 9 seasons.

It's an elaborate compendium of pop culture, but there's a point to it all: copyright reform. "I created this project to advocate for copyright reform and highlight the importance of fair use in protecting creators and their art," wrote Sabia. "To prove culture is not only everywhere, but that certain references to films, songs, and works of art are critical for our collective understanding of comedy and to the importance of relating to content, I found every cultural, real-life reference from every episode of The Office."

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Viewers are invited to add any references that could be missing, or clarify errors in the clips by adding to this Google Doc.

Here's a video of the references Sabia couldn't pin down:

h/t Neetzan Zimmerman


Prachi Gupta

Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at pgupta@salon.com.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Art Comedy Copyright Reform Internet Pop Culture The Office Video

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