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Endless Thread

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.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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)
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.