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.
Endless Thread

Endless Thread

From WBUR

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.

Most Recent Episodes

RIP Lil Miquela

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

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?

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

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

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.

Endless Thread introduces "Beyond All Repair", Amory Sivertson's new podcast

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.

Endless Thread introduces "Beyond All Repair", Amory Sivertson's new podcast

Encore: Getting home

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.

Endless Thread: The Musical

As Shakespeare once said...all the internet is a stage, and all keyboard warriors merely players. In this episode of Endless Thread, the members of the Nashville-based musical improv group Cherry Bomb stage an homage to their very active neighborhood Facebook group, and put some posts inspired by the Endless Thread subreddit to song. Credits: This episode was produced by Grace Tatter. Mixing and sound design by Matt Reed. Ben Brock Johnson and Grace Tatter are the co-hosts.

Dinner and a (Slide) Show

Dinner and a (Slide) Show

Instead of a typical first date — dinner and light conversation, maybe — he presented 29 slides about one of his favorite movies. The internet loved it. But did his date? Credits: This episode was produced by Dean Russell. Mixing and sound design by Emily Jankowski. Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson are the co-hosts. Image Credit: X/Jason Carman

Recess Therapy's Julian Shapiro-Barnum is skeptical of kids becoming social media stars

The point of Julian Shapiro-Barnum's Recess Therapy, a video series where he interviews kids about life's bigger questions, was never to make the kids social media superstars. But that's exactly what happened when he posted a video that went mega-viral in the summer of 2022. Endless Thread host Ben Brock Johnson talks to Julian about making the internet a fun space for kids and adults, Julian's multi-parent upbringing, and the wisdom of children.

Recess Therapy's Julian Shapiro-Barnum is skeptical of kids becoming social media stars