See WHOIS details here. The WHOIS domain was WHOIS Protected hours after the WHOIS request was performed. We were lucky to acquire the data before whoever’s organizing this noticed. “Stop looking up my data” - How long has this been there?
Thomas Bender email@example.com Telephone: +1.3477760465 Fax: +1.5555555555 PO Box 726 JAF Station New York, 10116 US
The email address associated with the registration of the PronunciationBook.com domain name is firstname.lastname@example.org, an assumed identity. Franz Poekler (spelled Franz Pökler) is a German rocket scientist in Thomas Pynchon’s book Gravity's Rainbow (Part 3 of the book is entitled In the Zone as referred to in How to Pronounce 71) (http://www.youtube.com/watdh?v=SergzrDyD58)
Looking up Franz Poekler, we arrived at a Youtube channel, created on May 27th, 2008: https://www.youtube.com/user/franzpoekler. His Youtube activity is filled with only four interactions, two of which are likes of Pronunciation Book’s videos. Poekler also liked and favorited this video: https://www.youtube.com/watdh?v=HLWP45AGE-o Some profile information can still be accessed here,including the video preview images of the four recent videos r20-r23. This channel is also subscribed to the PronunciationBook channel.
(UPDATE: It seems that the channel became unavailable as of July 25, 2013)
There is also a vimeo profile associated with Franz Poekler: http://vimeo.com/user439030
Every video was deleted between 8:10AM and 8:15AM (unknown what timezone) Sun Jul 14, 2013, hours after the connection with Franz Poekler was revealed. [Can verify it was 4:10 PM to 4:15 PM, EDT.]
A Ustream.tv profile was found for Franz Poekler. Date joined is March 24, 2009. The location for the profile is “New York, NY” which is consistent with the PO Box used for the registration of Pronunciationbook.com.
FranzPoekler on Youtube also favorited and liked a video called This Is My Milwaukee. What is interesting is that email@example.com, the email address used to register PronunciationBook.com, was also used to register the following domain names, one of them being thisismymilwaukee.com: http://synydyne.com/
http://www.proyectovillanueva.org/ http://proyectovillanueva.org/ http://cashfortimesharesnow.com/ Redirects to Synydyne http://thisismymilwaukee.com/ http://www.ministryofculture.com/ Not sure who this is registered to, but there's good ole Thomas Bender under 'Cabinet'.
Main page: Synydyne
This information has led us to believe that PronunciationBook is just another ARG produced by Synydyne.
Bender has been confirmed to be working under Howcast as VP of the Production department. This goes hand in hand with the knowledge that Synydne has contributed to various Howcast videos, the fact that Franz Poekler (Bender's alleged alias)'s Vimeo channel contained an upload of a Howcast video, and the discovery that, when calling the Howcast office number and typing in Tom's name against the automated receptionist, 'Tom Bender' is spoken by a voice similar to ProBook's voice, after which the receptionist says he's unavailable.
A quick Google search resulted in this tweet, from Howcast's Twitter account. The shortened link leads to this picture, of Tom Bender. Though it is only the back of his head, compare it to the screenshot of him from the This Is My Milwaukee video. He's the same guy. This is another picture of Tom Bender (he's the one on the far left). Here's another picture of Bender (the one on the right) in this news article. Compare to the screenshots of the museum patron from the This is My Milwaukee video. The MoC website also has a picture of Bender Here.
Also this video compares Tom Bender's voice to PB's voice. The microphone he uses to record his newer videos makes his voice sound clearer and a little different, but compare the interview voice to one of his older videos and you can clearly hear the resemblance. Looking further into Howcast we found that the co-founder is Jason Liebman, a former Google employee, also the co-founder of Movements.org along with Jared Cohen. Movements.org is a “spreading democracy” type group.
Ministry of Culture
The Ministry of Culture website might be important to note.
Ministry of Culture 315 W33rd Street, Suite 34G, New York NY 10001 Office: 212 505 7550 Street: 646 642 4663
There are a number of videos in the last section, 'Ministry Moments'. Some of them have peculiar titles that may relate to the 77 days ARG, but nothing in the videos themselves stands out.
In the Cabinet section there is a description of Bender:"
MINISTER FOR MOXIE
Only Tom truly knows why he studied physics at Princeton before becoming a top-notch shooter and editor of documentary and short-form content, but clearly it worked. His doc feature "Hoopeston," about a witch school in rural Illinois, premiered at the 2008 New York Underground Film Festival. He’s also worked on films exploring competitive cheerleading, supernatural phenomena, commodity trading and religion in Cuba."