There comes a time in every great society to take a moment, take a breath, and wait for those who have fallen behind to get a chance to catch up. This generally allows for great societal changes to take root and become mainstream, for technological innovations to gain critical mass, and now, to avoid social media TV spoilers.
It’s the latest innovation in time travel, actually. Sending your entertainment into the future is one thing (that’s really the essence of what DVRs do, if you really think about it), but up until now, the Internet was mostly in real-time. If you haven’t seen the latest episode of that heavily tweeted program, you’re just going to miss out on all of the fan reaction until you catch up, for fear of the inevitable spoilers.
Thanks to a new company called Tomorrowish, the DVR has become social.
It’s still in the early stages, but essentially the system will bank tweets about a program and sync them with your program feed once you start watching – either through streaming video in a single screen or through certain set-top boxes, synced to a second screen. The system will even clean up the junk tweets (as they say, no “Yay Glee!” tweets) and just give you the relevant ones, with later ones from other Tomorrowish users appended. It is, quite literally, the pause that refreshes.
It’s not real-time, but at least you get to share the comments after the fact. Today, it’s Twitter and Facebook. But for now, that’s a pretty good start.
This all just underscores the ever-increasing relationship between television and social media. But it also serves as a reminder that the television content (and DVR technology) is the primary component to this. People are willing to part with the tweets in deference to not “spoiling” their favorite TV program.
So this brings to mind some other things that might benefit from an addition of a social media pause technology. TV sports, certainly. If for nothing else, you’d be able to pause all of the tweets until you were done praying, restocking, or maybe celebrating.
But now if they could possibly manage to apply that technology to real life time-shifting that early parking spot or pausing the 4AM traffic for using it during a 7AM commute, then they'd really be onto something.
For now, we'll just have to be happy with another example of someone who saw a barrier to someone’s social relationship with television and broke it down.
So anytime anyone wonders if TV is a social medium, just remember - the Internet will wait for you to catch up on watching television.