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Thanks for the memories  July 26, 2012

Pronunciation YouTube channel turns into a spooky mystery

About The Author

CNET Editor

Michelle Starr is the tiger force at the core of all things. She also writes about cool stuff and apps as CNET Australia's Crave editor. But mostly the tiger force thing.

(Screenshot by Michelle Starr/CNET Australia)

YouTube user Pronunciation Book has stopped uploading his pronunciation guides, replacing them with a mysterious and creepy countdown.

Pronunciation Book has never been an enormous YouTube hit. His pronunciation guides, dating back more than three years to April 2010, demonstrate how to pronounce common and uncommon words in American English, and rarely net more that a few thousand views, unlike Pronunciation Manual, which appears to be a parody.

It looks, however, as though the channel has been up to something for a very long time. Starting two weeks ago, Pronunciation Book has been uploading a 77-day countdown, noting that "Something is going to happen".

So far, it's up to Day 62 at the time of writing, and each video includes a creepy phrase, repeating "something is going to happen", followed by several seconds of strange clicking noises. Interestingly, going back through the videos, several of these strange phrases appear in his other videos: "I'm trying to tell you something, but you're just not listening" from May last year, for example.

The clicking sounds at the end of each video have been the subject of much speculation, with many users positing that they are Morse Code. However, other users who have been studying the mystery believe that it's something else again; by using spectography to convert the audio files into visual data, they've managed to create an image file that seems to reveal the lower part of a man's torso in the style of the Lord Kitchener "I Need You" army recruitment poster.

(Credit: Google Doc)

If it's a viral marketing attempt, it's a very detailed one; a public Google Doc has been analysing the videos, tying the mystery to several other YouTube channels. The current theory is that the countdown is pointing to an alternate reality game (ARG) produced by a man named Thomas Bender of Synydyne, creator of ARG This is My Milwaukee. The day after the Pronunciation Book YouTube channel went live, Bender registered the domain

Other clues include references to heroes, a mission and someone called "The Chief".

At this time, the countdown is due to expire on 24 September. We can't tell whether there's anything significant about that date, but if you want to mine the channel for clues, you can find all the Pronunciation Book videos, dating back to April 2010, here.

Whatever Pronunciation Book is up to, the amount of work put into the long play is truly impressive — that is one deep rabbit hole. It's definitely a channel worth watching.

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PhilR1 posted a comment   

PronunciationManual answered the question for us:


Jack Smith posted a comment   

"Other clues include references to heroes, a mission and someone called "The [u][b]Chief[/u][/b]"."
Anyone remember the ilovebees campaign for halo 2? There was another one for halo 3, but I don't remember many details. The references, especially to the chief sound like it could possibly be a new Halo viral marketing game, possibly for Halo 5.


Jack Smith posted a reply   

Sorry, I thought HTML tags worked on CNET.


Michelle Starr posted a reply   

It's a bit annoying, isn't it? Sorry about that.

My gut feeling is that this isn't a promotional campaign. Who waits over three years to launch an ad?


Gbear_A posted a reply   

Only other instance where I have seen a long promotional campaign was for Halo CE. Something called the Cortana letters began popping up on Bungie forums about 2 years and 10 months before the launch of the game.
Whatever this is, like you wrote, it is a truly impressive amount of work, patience and detail.


Michelle Starr posted a reply   

I suppose a Halo reveal wouldn't be the WORST thing ever, but I have to admit, I'll be quite disappointed if this just turns out to be an advertising campaign.

If Synydyne is behind it (which looks pretty likely), I don't think it will. From what I've read, that's not Synydyne's MO.


JeniferB posted a reply   

Very good point!

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