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Endless Thread

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Hosts Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson dig into the internet's vast and curious ecosystem of online communities to find untold histories, unsolved mysteries, and other jaw-dropping stories online and IRL.
338 Episodes
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How to Fight a Shark

How to Fight a Shark

2024-07-1237:18

When Endless Thread producer Grace Tatter heard a friend confidently assert that she could ward off a shark because of TikTok, Grace was both concerned for her friend's safety, and curious. Why are there so many videos about "redirecting" sharks on TikTok, and how accurate are they? Hosts Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson dive into the controversial world of SharkTok, where influencers are trying to show a different side of sharks by getting up close and personal with them. ***** Credits: This episode was produced by Grace Tatter with Cici Yu. Mix and sound design by Emily Jankowski. It was hosted by Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson.
Endless Thread presents an episode from the podcast Outside/In. While digging a well in 1750, a group of workers accidentally discovered an ancient Roman villa containing over a thousand papyrus scrolls. This was a stunning discovery: the only library from antiquity ever found in situ. But the scrolls were blackened and fragile, turned almost to ash by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Over the centuries, scholars’ many attempts to unroll the fragile scrolls have mostly been catastrophic. But now, scientists are trying again, this time with the help of Silicon Valley and some of the most advanced technology we’ve got: particle accelerators, CT scanners, and AI. After two thousand years, will we finally be able to read the scrolls? ***** Reported, produced, and mixed by Justine Paradis Outside/In host: Nate Hegyi Edited by Taylor Quimby Our team also includes Felix Poon NHPR’s Director of Podcasts is Rebecca Lavoie Music in this episode came from Silver Maple, Xavy Rusan, bomull, Young Community, Bio Unit, Konrad OldMoney, Chris Zabriski, and Blue Dot Sessions. Volcano recordings came from daveincamas on Freesound.org, License Attribution 4.0 and  felix.blume on freesound.org, Creative Commons 0. Outside/In is a production of New Hampshire Public Radio.
Every year, thousands of Americans lose money participating in multi-level marketing (MLM). So, last year, when a new business idea that promised to correct MLM's sins bubbled up on Instagram and TikTok, a lot of people hopped off the MLM train, and onto this new one, lured by the promise of a low-lift and lucrative side hustle. This new business idea is called "master resell rights." But what exactly is it? Where did it come from? And does it actually solve any of MLM's problems? Endless Thread investigates. ***** Credits: This episode was produced by Grace Tatter. Mix and sound design by Emily Jankowski. It was hosted by Ben Brock Johnson, Amory Sivertson, and Grace Tatter.
Worm Wars

Worm Wars

2024-06-2137:172

When Endless Thread producer Nora Saks learned that a "toxic, self-cloning worm that poops out of its mouth" was invading Maine, she started sounding the alarm about the impending eco-doom. Until, that is, state experts clued her into the "real threat" : A different creepy crawly wriggling towards The Pine Tree State's gardens and precious forests, and fast. In this rebroadcast from January 2023, Endless Thread tunnels down a wormhole, encountering a long history of xenophobic rhetoric about so-called invasive species, and some hard truths about the field of invasion biology itself.
In April, a TikTok creator mused, "Did I just write the song of the summer?" Girl on Couch's "Looking for a man in finance" song spawned hundreds of remixes, and won her a record deal. While it might seem remarkable that a five-second TikTok sound can command the attention of pop music kingmakers, the industry has been capitalizing on internet memes for decades. Endless Thread takes a crash course in internet meme pop music history. Credits: This episode was produced by Grace Tatter . Mix and sound design by Emily Jankowski. The hosts are Amory Sivertson, Ben Brock Johnson, and Grace Tatter.
Scamming the Scammers

Scamming the Scammers

2024-06-0741:22

Border Patrol is calling: A drug cartel has your bank information, so you need to transfer all your money to a safe Bitcoin account—right now! Millions of people will be familiar with calls like this, in which scammers, often in other countries, use threats or promises to rob you. In 2023, individuals and businesses lost an estimated $485 billion to fraud schemes, according to Nasdaq's Global Financial Crime Report. Law enforcement will only do so much to recover losses. That is why some online streamers are taking matters into their own hands. And they have become famous for fighting back. Endless Thread's Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson explore the complicated, criminal world of scambaiters. ***** Credits: This episode was produced by Ben Brock Johnson and Dean Russell. Mix and sound design by Emily Jankowski. It was hosted by Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson.
SwordTube, En Garde!

SwordTube, En Garde!

2024-05-3123:48

Sword influencers abound on YouTube. Those who specialize in the historic European martial arts, or HEMA, have gained legions of fans showcasing the fantastic, bladed techniques of yore. But talk of parries and pommels has recently given way to bigotry. Endless Thread's Ben Brock Johnson speaks with co-host Amory Sivertson about one valiant influencer fighting back. ***** Credits: This episode was produced by Ben Brock Johnson and Dean Russell. Mix and sound design by Emily Jankowski. The hosts are Amory Sivertson and Ben Brock Johnson.
Gen Z is over it. The youngest generation of adults is inheriting a climate crisis, the ongoing fallout from a global pandemic, a polarized political landscape, and a tenuous economic reality.  And many Gen Z members, a generation more likely to identify as progressive than conservative, are ready for something to give. Enter: Gen Z for Change — a youth-led non-profit that brands itself as, "the place where the creator economy and progressive politics intersect on social media." The group leverages a hundreds-deep network of social media creators to spread calls to action over TikTok. They've also pulled on the programming expertise within their team to develop a caché of semi-automatic tools that take the guesswork out of engaging with their political agenda. Their latest tool, "Ceasefire Now!!" takes these efforts one step further — resulting in, by Gen Z for Change's count, two million emails calling for a ceasefire in Gaza hitting the inboxes of elected representatives in Washington every day. Show notes:  Gen Z for Change website Is Gen Z Switching Political Direction? Not So Fast. (PRRI, 2024) Gen Z for Change's Latest Action Sparked a Shift in How Yelp Handles Anti-Abortion Crisis Pregnancy Centers (Teen Vogue, 2022) Kellogg says it will permanently replace striking employees (NPR, 2021)
Catfish for dinner

Catfish for dinner

2024-05-1725:262

After Taylor Paré was stood up on a date, she turned to TikTok. In a now-viral video, she claimed to have uncovered a new scheme to scam to singles looking for love on the internet. Endless Thread investigates. ===== Credits: This episode was written and produced by Grace Tatter. Mix and sound design by Paul Vaitkus. The hosts are Ben Brock Johnson and Grace Tatter.
Hype Cycle

Hype Cycle

2024-05-1042:092

The Vision Pro is Apple's new $3,500 virtual reality headset. Since its debut in February, users have found new ways to use this latest iteration of a decades-old technology: scrolling TikTok at work, driving Tesla's Cybertruck, recording their kid's birth. But can VR truly integrate into our daily lives? Or will it forever remain a niche technology for geeks and gamers? Endless Thread dives into the history of VR and its potential for the future. ===== Credits: This episode was written and produced by Cici Yongshi Yu. Mix and sound design by Emily Jankowski. The hosts are Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson.
Imagine sitting in a hospital room for 24 consecutive hours in the most agonizing pain you can possibly imagine. You feel a sense of impending doom. You have a feeling this won’t end well. Then, the pain subsides and you walk away. Jamie Seymour has had that experience eleven different times. He’s a leading expert on one of the world’s most frightening creatures and he’s paid the price. This episode originally aired on Oct 12, 2018.
The Jackie Show

The Jackie Show

2024-04-2627:20

Our interactions with nature are increasingly mediated by technology. We scroll through wildlife feeds on TikTok. We use Instagram to plan hikes. Even in the wilderness, we religiously bring our phones to document the experience. And then there are animal cams. Since the 1990s, people have fawned over livestreams of cute pandas and colorful fish. One could argue that animal cams another example of how we’ve jammed a screen between ourselves and the wild. But the story of Jackie the bald eagle presents a different perspective: one in which technology might bring us closer to our fellow creatures. Producer Dean Russell speaks with Endless Thread co-host Ben Brock Johnson about the potential upsides of technonaturalism. ===== Credits: This episode was written and produced by Dean Russell. Mix and sound design by Emily Jankowski. The hosts are Ben Brock Johnson and Dean Russell.
Green Memes

Green Memes

2024-04-1940:091

In 2017, Rhett Barker and his friends needed a way to stay in touch after graduating college. They were ecology majors, and meme groups were in vogue, so they created Wild Green Memes for Ecological Fiends on Facebook. It began as a place to share silly nature-centered memes. The jokes were comically esoteric: about, say, the scientific name of a rare wild feline or the bites of Brazilian wandering spiders. You needed to know the science to laugh. In spite of this — or because of it — the group attracted hundreds of thousands of fans from around the world. Now the group is a sprawling ecosystem of memelords with a “relentlessly optimistic” take on the natural world. Rhett decided to put the group’s popularity to good use. The results were overwhelming. Endless Thread examines the psychology of conservation online and how people are using hope, fear, and humor to repair the planet. ===== Credits: This episode was written and produced by Dean Russell. Mix and sound design by Matt Reed. The hosts are Ben Brock Johnson and Dean Russell. P.S. Thanks to Derek for the rad story rec!
RIP Lil Miquela

RIP Lil Miquela

2024-04-1231:021

In 2016, followers flocked to an Instagram user purporting to be Miquela Sousa, a 19-year-old Brazilian-American model, singer, and sometimes activist. For years, no one was quite sure if Miquela was made-up, or to what degree. Was she a model rendered doll-like by filters? An actress? A totally fictional character? Her ambiguous humanity helped Miquela land lucrative brand partnerships with the likes of BMW and Calvin Klein. But in recent years, interest in her has been slipping. Writer Mercedes Gonzales-Bazan joins Endless Thread to talk about Miquela's mysterious origin story, and what her declining relevance reveals about our current relationship with AI. You can read Mercedes Gonzales-Bazan's essay, Death of the Artificial Influencer, here. Credits: This episode was produced by Grace Tatter. Mix and sound design by Emily Jankowski. The host is Ben Brock Johnson.
Nerd Fight

Nerd Fight

2024-04-0524:241

The halls of science, known for prim propriety and careful debate, are feuding. A new theory of gravity challenges Einstein's general relativity, our current understanding of that thing that keeps our feet on the ground. Physicists are upset. "Cotton gravity"—named in honor of mathematician Émile Cotton, not fluffy flora—was first posited by Japanese researcher Junpei Harada in 2021. The idea, which modifies general relativity and discounts the theory of dark matter, spurred a surprisingly catty argument on arXiv.org, an open-access website for scientific preprints. Things got nerdy. And hilarious. Endless Thread explains. ===== Credits: This episode was written and produced by Dean Russell. Mix and sound design by Emily Jankowski. The hosts are Ben Brock Johnson and Dean Russell.
Shaq Time: Is Shaq OK?

Shaq Time: Is Shaq OK?

2024-03-2929:22

Shaquille O'Neal has some advice: "If you are going to retire, accept it. Enjoy your family," he recently said on The Big Podcast With Shaq. "I made a lot of dumb mistakes to where I lost my family. I don't have anybody." His statement, directed at retiring NFL star Jason Kelce, raised concern online. "What happened with Shaq?" asked one Reddit user in a popular thread. "I thought he was [a] super nice guy. Why is he all alone?" The former four-time NBA champion has developed several personas since the Orlando Magic drafted him in 1992. On the court, he was a giant. Online, he became something different. Endless Thread breaks down the many sides of Shaq to answer the question, Is he OK? ===== Credits: This episode was written and produced by Ben Brock Johnson with help from Dean Russell. Mix and sound design by Emily Jankowski. The hosts are Amory Sivertson and Ben Brock Johnson.
The Music Man, Part 2

The Music Man, Part 2

2024-03-2242:361

In the second part of Endless Thread's investigation into a ubiquitous online piano academy, we dig into why some people think it's a front to recruit students to the Church of Scientology and track down the man behind the piano himself. Credits: This episode was written and produced by Grace Tatter with mixing and sound design by Emily Jankowski. Amory Sivertson and Ben Brock Johnson are the co-hosts.
The Music Man, Part 1

The Music Man, Part 1

2024-03-1531:162

You may have seen this ad: A frenetic, wild-haired concert pianist says he can make any newbie a virtuoso in months. Just take his online course for $3,000. Too good to be true? Redditors thought so. Posts dating back years cried scam. Some went further and claimed his virtual piano academy is a cover to recruit Scientologists. In Part 1 of "The Music Man," Endless Thread investigates. Credits: This episode was written and produced by Grace Tatter with mixing and sound design by Emily Jankowski. Amory Sivertson and Ben Brock Johnson are the co-hosts.
Last week, you heard Endless Thread co-hosts Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson re-introduce you to how Amory's new podcast, Beyond All Repair, began. This week, they introduce you to the first chapter of Beyond All Repair. Amory has reopened a box that some members of the Correia family were hoping would stay shut forever. Amory first met the youngest Correia, Shane, in 2017 while interviewing him about his experience with homelessness for Endless Thread. But there is another dark chapter of Shane's life: his older sister being accused of murdering her mother-in-law in 2002, when he was 13 years old. Now Shane wants to know, did his sister commit this brutal crime? Note: Episode 2 of Beyond All Repair is out now. Listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.
Encore: Getting home

Encore: Getting home

2024-03-0139:321

Endless Thread co-host Amory Sivertson spent three years unraveling a cold-case murder. Her reporting eventually became the forthcoming podcast series Beyond All Repair. Every story has its beginning. Amory's investigation starts here: Endless Thread's second-ever episode—originally released in 2018—about a man and his folder of documents. Credits: This episode was produced and co-hosted by Amory Sivertson and Ben Brock Johnson. Mix and sound design by Paul Vaitkus.
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Comments (81)

Edwin Cox

Thriller came out in 1982!

Jun 14th
Reply

Bea Kiddo

Let gen z run the country. #voteblue2024

Jun 12th
Reply

Dorian C. Schiefelbein

Bathed in the silvery glow of our celestial companion, the architects of exploration craft a symphony of synchronicity - a temporal tapestry that weaves together the threads of future lunar endeavors. As we cast our sights beyond the azure cradle, this unified chronometer will serve as the metronome for our extraterrestrial exploits, aligning the pulse of lunar activity with the precision of a conductor’s baton https://orbitaltoday.com/2024/04/03/moon-time-zone-nasa-is-to-create-a-coordinated-time-standard-for-the-moon/ In this boundless ballet, where each second is a note and every moment a movement, the creation of a lunar time standard heralds a crescendo in our cosmic concerto, a testament to our unyielding quest to chart the unknown.

May 1st
Reply

Foxy

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Apr 11th
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Kevin Schlueter

Too much vocal fry.

Feb 5th
Reply

threeoten

Nice work, dudes! Time for a salad!

Jan 28th
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Paja Storec

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Jan 15th
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Cindy R

Amory (sp?) did NOT vibe with this episode at all 😂

Dec 11th
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Alex McNaughton

this is exactly the kind of episode endless thread does best.

Sep 4th
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Ruth Hayden

I love the melody!

May 26th
Reply

John L. Edwards

the rhyming kinda sucks in this episode.

Apr 12th
Reply

TH3N0RTHSID3

yes! great episode!

Oct 29th
Reply

Ruth Gordon

Please stop this BS 😖😖😖

Oct 27th
Reply

Cindy R

This episode made me feel sad or maybe disappointed. This is the uglier side of the internet that unfortunately is very popular.

Oct 21st
Reply

TH3N0RTHSID3

time to switch up this pair of hosts. the passive aggressive tension makes listening to this podcast painful. shame, I used to love this podcast, always had interesting stories. just need new co-host dynamics.

Sep 2nd
Reply (1)

Alaska

😂😂😂

Sep 1st
Reply

James Reel

ACAB

May 7th
Reply

Alex McNaughton

loved this episode! great story!

Feb 27th
Reply

Glenn Wray

well this was bad. don't do that again, please.

Feb 25th
Reply

Athena K.

Cookie Monster hahaha

Aug 10th
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