DiscoverEndless Thread
Endless Thread
Claim Ownership

Endless Thread

Author: WBUR

Subscribed: 14,761Played: 525,980
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.
252 Episodes
Reverse
Worm Wars

Worm Wars

2023-01-2734:41

When Endless Thread producer Nora Saks learns that a "toxic, self-cloning worm that poops out of its mouth is invading Maine", she starts sounding the alarm about the impending eco-doom. Until, that is, state experts clue her into the "real threat"; a different creepy crawly wriggling towards The Pine Tree State's gardens and precious forests, and fast.  In an attempt to find out more about this real threat, co-hosts Ben Brock Johnson and Nora Saks tunnel 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. Eventually, they wind up at a community garden in Bangor, Maine, where the worm wars are playing out in real time.  This Endless Thread episode is about invasive species in our midst, and more importantly, the stories we tell about them.  
Amory shares a 10-year-old Reddit post with Ben showing a photo of a college student with an epic-looking wooden staff and a caption that baffled the photo's subject. Ben shares a Trivial Pursuit question that launched a mystery fit for a Redditor.
Amory and Ben honor the legacy of internet activist Aaron Swartz with two people familiar with his life and work: documentary filmmaker Brian Knappenberger (The Internet's Own Boy) and Cindy Cohn of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Swartz died by suicide ten years ago this week, on January 11, 2013, at the age of 26. 
“What are the dimensions of an adult llama?” asked a Redditor called Mrs. Sam Handwich in the "No Stupid Questions" community. "I've been hired to make a tuxedo for a llama and I don't have its measurements," she added. In this favorite from the Endless Thread archives, Ben and Amory get to the bottom of this joyful post from 2020.
Encore: Unsent Letters

Encore: Unsent Letters

2022-12-3030:111

The unsent letter. We all have one, half-composed in our heads or fully-formed as an email draft. Whatever form these letters take, they go unsent because they might be better left unsent, or because we wouldn’t know how to send them. In this favorite episode from the archives, we discuss a place online where these letters find an audience.
Team Endless Thread is here with your holiday bonus — a bonus episode, that is! If you heard our most recent episode on 'Goosebumps The Musical,' you know that Amory got to talk to R.L. Stine, author of the wildly popular 'Goosebumps' book series, which turned 30 this year. But what you didn’t hear was… most of their conversation! It actually had very little to do with the musical (which, Stine confessed, he had never listened to), and much more to do with the origins of 'Goosebumps' and the series’ impact over the last thirty years. Stine tells Amory why he didn’t want to write a series of scary stories for 7-12 year olds initially, but why he now considers them the best audience. Enjoy, happy holidays, and don’t forget to sign our petition to help get 'Goosebumps The Musical' to Broadway: https://www.change.org/p/help-get-goosebumps-the-musical-to-broadway ********* Credits: This episode was written and produced by Amory Sivertson. Mixing and sound design by Paul Vaitkus. Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson are the co-hosts.
Listener beware...

Listener beware...

2022-12-2340:052

When producer Quincy Walters came to an Endless Thread episode ideas meeting talking about 'Goosebumps The Musical,' Amory had two questions: 1) “That’s a thing?!” and 2) “Is it… good?” Yep and YEP! So why haven’t more people heard of it? And what might it take to get the show to Broadway? Amory and Quincy set out to learn more and meet some surprising people along the way. Listener beware… you’re in for a scare. Sign the petition to help get 'Goosebumps The Musical' to Broadway: https://www.change.org/p/help-get-goosebumps-the-musical-to-broadway ****** Credits: This episode was written and produced by Amory Sivertson and Quincy Walters, with help from Megan Cattel. Mixing and sound design by Emily Jankowski. Ben Brock Johnson, Amory Sivertson, and Quincy Walters are the co-hosts.
Can a machine think like a human? Can it be conscious? For decades the answer was clear: nope. But artificial intelligence today is challenging that notion. In our last Good Bot, Bad Bot episode, Endless Thread goes to Google, the frontier of AI, to see just how close the field is to creating bots with minds of their own. ****** Credits: This episode was written and produced by Dean Russell. Mixing and sound design by Emily Jankowski and Paul Vaitkus. Ben Brock Johnson and Dean Russell are the co-hosts.
If you've ever used a dating app, chances are you've encountered a bot, most likely a fake account or a scammer. But this week on Endless Thread, we investigate a new type of bot that is helping users optimize their love lives — a digital dating coach installed in your phone's keyboard that always knows just what to say. ****** Credits: This episode was written and produced by Nora Saks. Mixing and sound design by Emily Jankowski and Paul Vaitkus. Ben Brock Johnson and Nora Saks are the co-hosts.
Next up in our bots series, we bring you a cautionary tale about Tay, a Microsoft chatbot that has lived on in infamy. Tay was originially modeled to be the bot-girl-next-door. But after only sixteen hours on Twitter, Tay was shut down. In this episode of Good Bot, Bad Bot, we uncover who gets a say in what we build, how developers build it, and who is to blame when things take a dark turn.  ****** Credits: This episode was written and produced by Quincy Walters and Ben Brock Johnson. Mixing and sound design by Paul Vaitkus. Ben Brock Johnson and Quincy Walters are the co-hosts.
Encore: Shrinkflation

Encore: Shrinkflation

2022-11-2530:213

From the supermarket to the housing market, products are getting smaller but prices are not. Why is this happening? And can it be stopped before the toilet paper roll disappears right before our very… reaching hands? In this encore episode, we're talking all things shrinkflation. This episode was originally released on June 26, 2020.
Next up in our bots series, we explore a growing field of AI: immortalizing the dead through predictive AI text. We talk to two individuals who utilized this tech in different ways, and discuss how these bots can help us improve our understanding of grief.  ****** Credits: This episode was written and produced by Megan Cattel. Mixing and sound design by Paul Vaitkus. Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson are the co-hosts.
Next in our series Good Bot, Bad Bot: the possibilities of bots being used in governments around the world. How can bots increase transparency and shine a light on corruption, such as insider trading, among our elected officials? Will bots be put on the ballot in the near future? We go into all of this and more in this installment of Good Bot, Bad Bot.  ****** Credits: This episode was written and produced by Grace Tatter. Mixing and sound design by Paul Vaitkus. Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson are the co-hosts.
For the next few weeks, the Endless Thread team will be sharing stories all about the rise of bots. How are these pieces of software influencing our daily lives in sneaky, surprising ways? First up, our co-hosts delve into the history of ELIZA, the world's first chatbot therapist. Why did this computer's creator have a lot of complicated feelings about the development of AI? We also contemplate the bigger question: can AI help us cope with mental health issues?  ****** Credits: This episode was written and produced by Ben Brock Johnson with help from Dean Russell. Mixing and sound design by Paul Vaitkus. Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson are the co-hosts.
When Alex was in high school, he and his best friend used to break into abandoned houses. Alex was a tough guy, giving people hell. Until one night, in one of those abandoned houses... hell gave him something back. This episode was originally released on October 05, 2018. 
Encore: Olga of Kiev

Encore: Olga of Kiev

2022-10-2831:322

Olga of Kiev executed one of the most bone-chilling revenge tours in history after her husband, Igor, was murdered. Then, with a burning city in her wake, she converted to Christianity and became a saint. This episode was originally released on October 18, 2019.
Encore: Imaginary Friend

Encore: Imaginary Friend

2022-10-2728:393

When Kellie's 3 year-old daughter told her about her new imaginary friend, Kellum, she didn't think too much of it. But gradually, Kellum started to feel less and less... imaginary. Kellie and her daughter, Madison, tell us everything. This episode was originally released on October 30, 2019. 
This week, we investigate the rise and fall of online influencer Caroline Calloway and the bigger question: Why do some people love to hate? ****** Credits: This episode was written and produced by Grace Tatter. Mixing and sound design by Emily Jankowski. Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson are the co-hosts.
Lazy Geoff

Lazy Geoff

2022-10-1434:163

A Twitter thread about a fox named “Lazy Geoff” drew the attention of thousands online. But can a fox really be lazy? Our search for an answer revealed a surprising shift in how humans understand animals and, maybe, the fate of nature. ****** Credits: This episode was written and produced by Dean Russell and Ben Brock Johnson. Sound design by Emily Jankowski. Ben Brock Johnson and Dean Russell are the co-hosts.
An Endless Thread listener sends their response to our Tales from the Crypto series. They make the case that crypto and NFTs could improve the video game industry. Ben and Amory also give their final thoughts and reflections on Tales from the Crypto. ****** Credits: This episode was written and produced by Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson. Mixing and sound design by Paul Vaitkus. Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson are the co-hosts.
loading
Comments (70)

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

wanderluther

You hate Harry Potter?? 😡😠

Aug 11th
Reply

Bea Kiddo

It sounds to me that the Harry Potter kid knows she’s not a witch and the parents need to face reality. As huge fan of the Harry Potter stories, I know that kid is smarter than her parents. They need to lay off the poly juice potion 😉and let their kid do and be the good that comes from the Harry Potter stories but without the stories now.

Aug 1st
Reply

Bea Kiddo

It sounds to me that the Harry Potter kid knows she’s not a witch and the parents need to face reality. As huge fan of the Harry Potter stories, I know that kid is smarter than her parents. They need to lay off the poly juice potion 😉and let their kid do and be the good that comes from the Harry Potter stories but without the stories now. ✌🏻

Aug 1st
Reply
Download from Google Play
Download from App Store