Thursday, April 5, 2007


  Step aside, reality television.  There’s a new engine gathering steam on the Reality Turnpike, and it’s doing something that you never could.  Remember when movies like “The Truman Show” and “EdTV” were so fictional they were almost far-fetched?  Well, thanks to modern technology, those days are gone.

  As you may have seen on The Today Show Monday, 23-year-old Justin Kan is the internet’s newest sensation.  For 17 days now, he has been broadcasting every minute of his life on the web, and people are beginning to tune in.  The Yale physics and philosophy grad turned web entrepreneur walks around, day after day, with a camera strapped to his head, as webwatchers tune in by the thousands to see what Justin is up to now.

  It’s not always exciting—like the eight (or ten) hours a day that he spends sleeping, or the countless hours spent in front of his computer.  But the show, if you can bring yourself to call it that, has its moments.  Like when a viewer called 911 to report a stabbing in his apartment, prompting San Francisco police to burst in, guns drawn.  Another time they reported a fire.  In fact, the prank 911 calls have forced dispatchers to begin calling Kan’s apartment to confirm emergencies before sending any more officers out.  Not to be outdone, the pranksters ordered $63 worth of pizza and had it sent to his door.

  As more and more people tune in, his technical team (comprised of his two buddies) is working overtime to keep the site running.  I tuned in Tuesday morning, while Justin was still sleeping, and the video server was full.  After refreshing my browser a few times, I got the live video feed, and saw that more than 2,000 other people were watching him sleep.

  Whether or not this will be the wave of the future remains to be seen.  Some claim that it’s a silly idea, a passing fancy.  But the kid is smart, and he has already figured out how to turn this into money.  It all revolves around product placement.  Banners hang on the walls of his apartment, and as the popularity of the site grows, there is no question that more sponsors will line up to be a part of Justin’s world.

  As it stands, the programming is kind of dull.  But this is just the beginning, according to Paul Graham of Y Coordinator, the company that funded the project.  “Ultimately their plan is to have hundreds of people with these cameras.  Each would be a channel; viewers would watch whichever was the most interesting at that time,” Graham recently told the San Francisco Chronicle.  “With hundreds of people, there would always be something interesting.  So why would anyone switch on their TV?”

  It’s true.  This is reality TV taken to the next level.  And it’s difficult to judge it based on the quality of programming provided by this one “channel.”  “We want to find people far more charismatic and attractive than me to go out and do this,” Kan told the Chronicle.  If you let your imagination take over, you can begin to see how this could catch on.

  Take a little time this weekend to point your browser to, and see for yourself what the future may look like.  And while you’re doing that, I’ll be buying up the domain name

 -From Pulse
   April 5, 2007