DiscoverEndless Thread
Endless Thread
Claim Ownership

Endless Thread

Author: WBUR

Subscribed: 15,161Played: 572,548
Share

Description

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.
291 Episodes
Reverse
Back in 2004, NBC’s 'To Catch a Predator' captivated millions of viewers as it followed a vigilante group called Perverted Justice, which has a goal to thwart pedophiles searching the internet for minors. Adult volunteers go online to pose as minors in order to, well, catch predators. Three years later, amid its growing popularity, it came to an end. But nearly two decades later, it's inspired a genre of influencers who have tried to fill the void.
Lofi Girl

Lofi Girl

2023-09-1539:194

The popular YouTube channel Lofi Girl provides a 24/7 livestream of chill beats to relax and study. Endless Thread producer Nora Ruth Valerie Saks and co-host Ben Brock Johnson look at how the Lofi Girl phenomenon has expanded into a record company, inspired copycats, and prompted academic research.
On Discord and YouTube, hundreds of Gen-Zers are teaming up for the purposes finding and archiving the Muzak (aka elevator music) that played in the plaza and lobby and mall of the Twin Towers.  On this 22nd anniversary of 9/11,  join Endless Thread in an episode where teens and young 20-somethings collect the seemingly innocuous sonic artifacts of the original World Trade Center people thought were lost and the lengths they've gone to find them.
Artist: Known

Artist: Known

2023-09-0146:112

The cover art for the 1976 paperback edition of Madeleine L'Engle's classic sci-fi/fantasy novel "A Wrinkle in Time" — featuring a rainbow-winged centaur and a green, glowering, red-eyed face — is iconic. And yet, for nearly 50 years, no one has known who illustrated it. Well, not NO ONE. Not anymore... Endless Thread cracks the case!
PARKS! Pt. 4: Death Sea

PARKS! Pt. 4: Death Sea

2023-08-2532:581

A Redditor proposed a quick fix to one of humanity’s greatest threats. But the real threat may be our fixation with quick fixes. Credits: This episode was written and produced by Dean Russell. Mixing and sound design by Emily Jankowski. Amory Sivertson and Ben Brock Johnson are the co-hosts. (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)
As of late, Endless Thread co-host Ben Brock Johnson has been obsessed with a rock in Wyoming, a lot like the protagonist of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. But you won't find Ben in the kitchen, making a replica of the rock out of mud and chicken wire. Instead you'll find him and co-host Amory Sivertson in this episode, traversing Reddit and TikTok and YouTube and Wyoming to find out why hundreds of thousands of people have been drawn to a monolith that has so many names and meanings.
PARKS! Pt. 2: Slime Mind

PARKS! Pt. 2: Slime Mind

2023-08-1128:591

Two years ago, he didn’t even know slime molds existed. Now, he may be the internet’s most famous slime savant. Co-hosts Amory Sivertson and Ben Brock Johnson take a walk in the park with Regular Slime Guy. Credits: This episode was written and produced by Dean Russell. Mixing and sound design by Emily Jankowski. Amory Sivertson and Ben Brock Johnson are the co-hosts. (Photo by Auscape/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
"To avoid crowds, visit areas that are less crowded." These comically obvious, wise words come from the Twitter account — ahem, X account — of the National Park Service, who has been hitting it out of the park lately (get it?) with its social media content and reaping viral rewards. Who is behind this material? And why has a more than hundred year old government agency chosen to let its hair down on social media?  Amory and Ben talk to the National Park Service's lone social media ranger, Matt Turner, and to Sarah Southerland from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, whose delightfully outrageous social media presence has captured the hearts and funny bones of hundreds of thousands of people. 
If there is an OG meme in which a human is the star, Scumbag Steve is it. He spread across the internet like wildfire in 2011 as a universal representation of dudes who are the worst. And, like any person grappling with immediate internet fame, Blake Boston — the man behind Scumbag Steve — tried to capitalize: merch, rap songs, public appearances. But the full story of what happened to Blake — and his family — has never been told. The Scumbag Steve meme became a bargaining chip in a custody battle, a complicating factor in meeting his birth mother, the cause of fights with extended family members, a source of anxiety attacks, and an echo of trauma. In this episode, we go past the origin story of Scumbag Steve and learn about Blake’s real struggles with PTSD and abuse — and how trauma has brought him and his mother, Susan Boston, even closer. 
In times like these, you've got to take joy wherever and however you can get it. Amory and Ben swap unexpected sources of joy they've bumped into recently — from a goblin-themed Reddit post, to the scariest toe talons on the internet, to a funky 1980's little-known bop about going to the beach on Massachusetts' North Shore.
Imagine if an explosion in California was so loud that it could be heard in New York City. This is the story of a real event that was just as loud — the loudest sound ever recorded in human history. This sound ripped across oceans in 1883, reaching people 3,000 miles away. Infrasonic pressure waves circled the globe four times. News of its destruction traveled through the early internet, the telegraph system, and altered the course of scientific history. In this episode of Endless Thread, we recreate this magnum opus — a hotly debated darling of Reddit — with the help of scholars and infrasonic scientists.
The first documented bar joke was copied onto a clay tablet 4,000 years ago in the ancient language of Sumerian. Scholars have translated it, but the meaning remains lost. After the Twitter account @DepthsOfWiki posted the joke in March, thousands of people attempted to decipher it to no avail. Yet, as cryptic as the bar joke may be, it offers clues into humor’s role in human civilizations and raises questions about when humor — and its sibling laughter — first emerged. In this episode, the second of two parts, Endless Thread continues its journey attempting to deconstruct the beginnings of humor and explain an unexplainable joke from the forgotten tablets of the past.
What makes the world’s first documented bar joke funny? No one knows. In a tweet that garnered thousands of responses in March, the Twitter account @DepthsOfWiki posted about a 4,000-year-old proverb written on a clay tablet. The line, which experts believe is a joke from the ancient civilization of Sumer, starts with the set-up, “A dog walks into a tavern.” But the punchline has left scholars and online commenters scratching their heads. The joke’s meaning has been lost, and finding it could reveal something unique about early human civilization. In this episode, the first of two parts, Endless Thread journeys back in time, attempting to deconstruct the origins of humor and explain an unexplainable joke from the forgotten tablets of the past.
In this summer-y episode of Endless Thread, Ben and Amory take a leap of faith (or do they?) to the depths of an upstate New York swimming hole with a legend surrounding it that's almost as shadowy as exact it's location.
Pup Play

Pup Play

2023-06-3025:391

“Which one of you freaks hijacked the south Boston green space google maps for your furry photo shoot?” Earlier this year, a Redditor was trying to find the person who uploaded pictures of himself posing in a dog mask and rubber suit to this location in Google Maps. But he's no furry. He's a pup. There's a difference, we learned, after speaking to the subject of these photos. Take a walk on the kinky side in this episode that explores the origins of puppy play and how the internet and the pandemic shaped the pup community.
Reddit is restricting the use of third-party apps. More than 8,000 subreddit communities shut down in protest — including r/Blind, which says the change will drastically reduce accessibility. In this special episode, co-host Ben Brock Johnson speaks with two moderators of r/Blind about their concerns. Credits: This episode was produced by Ben Brock Johnson and Dean Russell. Mixing and sound design by Matt Reed. Amory Sivertson and Ben Brock Johnson are the co-hosts. (Image credit: Getty/Johner Images)
Deepfake Law 101

Deepfake Law 101

2023-06-2334:544

Since the creation of deepfakes in 2017, the AI-powered technology that swaps faces into videos has become commonplace, particularly in pornography. Using someone's image without their consent to create porn can have damaging effects, emotionally and physically. But no federal law criminalizes the creation or sharing of non-consensual deepfake porn in the United States. Endless Thread co-hosts Amory Sivertson and Ben Brock Johnson speak with producer Dean Russell about deepfake law and the movement for change. Credits: This episode was written and produced by Dean Russell. Mixing and sound design by Emily Jankowski. Amory Sivertson and Ben Brock Johnson are the co-hosts. (Photo Illustration by Adrien Fillon/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Treasure in the Woods

Treasure in the Woods

2023-06-1628:062

Since the pandemic, foraging has exploded in popularity. Younger generations are embracing (or romanticizing) the great outdoors with trends like #cottagecore and #vanlife. But our Endless Thread team decided to learn the do's and don'ts of foraging from someone who learned how to forage since childhood — not as a trend, but as a way of life. A special thanks to Soul Fire Farm for letting us visit in Albany, NY.
Encore: Randonauts

Encore: Randonauts

2023-06-0938:042

r/randonauts is a fast-growing community of Redditors who use random, quantum-generated coordinates to go on real-life adventures. But what happens when those random coordinates lead you straight to a grisly crime scene? We revisit an episode that took Ben and Amory on their own random adventures back in 2020.
OK, Lamp!

OK, Lamp!

2023-06-0119:521

This week on Endless Thread, host Ben Brock Johnson and producer Grace Tatter look at a meme inspired by supermodel Bella Hadid's call to compliment each other on attributes other than physical appearance, and ask what really makes for an authentic compliment.
loading
Comments (73)

Alex McNaughton

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

Sep 4th
Reply

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)

Brooke Venning

😂😂😂

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
Reply

Athena K.

This was a great episode. So funny!

Aug 10th
Reply

Nic Holmes

Did anyone else hear “Eat a shower in the orange” a couple of times?

May 21st
Reply

Ryan Schaub

I want to do this so bad!

May 12th
Reply

Victoria Hughes

I found this series from your interview with the makers of the Brainwashed podcast.

Nov 1st
Reply

Victoria Hughes

Good luck getting the current US administration to be accountable for anything. They aren't even holding themselves accountable for the pandemic.

Nov 1st
Reply

buffaloguy1991

check out "it could happen here" by Robert Evans as well. excellent mini series on the subject

Oct 23rd
Reply

Cindy R

this gave me great anxiety.

Sep 9th
Reply

Okamifan1 Productions

What a classic mystery... Well done podcast too.

Aug 17th
Reply
Download from Google Play
Download from App Store