Googling from the future

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 13, 2006

A few years ago, I wrote about the potential hazards of watching time-shifted entertainment. Meg and I were watching a Red Sox-Yankees playoff game on TiVo and were about 20 minutes behind realtime events when Meg's phone rang:

She picked it up and looked at it, distracted by the game and unsure of what to do with it. I immediately realized it was her parents, calling with word of the completed game.

"No, no, don't answer it!" I yelled. "It's your parents! They're calling from the future!"

In promoting season four of The Wire, HBO sent out screener DVDs of the entire season to reviewers. By mid-October, some enterprising person ripped those DVDs and made all season 4 episodes available online, more than a month before the final episode was to be shown on TV. Unfortunately, those early viewers did some Googling about upcoming plot points which ended up in the referer logs of Heaven and Here, a popular blog about The Wire. (Note: if you haven't watched all of season 4, DON'T CLICK THROUGH to Heaven and Here...major spoilers!!) A spoiler-free excerpt:

Finally, I would like to say a few words on spoilers, On-Demand, and the concept of the collective. My big spoiler moment came about halfway through the season, which is rather a lucky break for me considering how much material I have been traversing each week related to the show. It was in the search terms for this very site, and it came in just three words: "[redacted]" It's the image you see for a second, recognize that you don't want to see, and quickly turn away from but can never even hope to forget. [...] I was able to avoid other spoilers, which again is kind of miraculous, but that note rang in my head all season, and it also had to be this ugly secret i kept while discussing the show here and with friends.

Who says time travel hasn't been invented yet?