(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.
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 PronunciationBook.com.
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.