Andrew Keen on New Media: Kids with cameras lead the way in giving web users their daily Fred

This time last year I went down to Los Angeles to do a live debate about the merits of user-generated-content with a kid called Justin Kan. It was a surreal experience. Kan, a freshly graduated Yale philosophy student, had affixed an always-on video camera on his head. Everything in his life – absolutely everything including, of course, sex and sleep – is streamed in grainy video onto his website. And so our whole debate – which, fortunately, featured neither sex nor sleep – was broadcast to the thousands of loyalists on Kan's network.

Back then, Kan was just starting a business called – a user-generated-content portal that enabled other self-broadcasting kids like himself to distribute their unedited lives on the internet. Just another ephemeral web 2.0 thing, I concluded. After all, how many kids would be shameless enough to broadcast their entire lives to a voyeuristic world.

I was totally wrong. The venture capital-backed is now a significant commercial success. Since March of last year, it has added 650,000 new users and has racked up 62 years of video on the site.'s numbers are stunning: over the last year, over 90,000 channels have been created, more than 24,000 events broadcast and more than 61,000 video clips uploaded from to YouTube.

What proves is that the juvenile self-broadcast is quickly becoming the dominant artform for today's YouTube generation. Take, for example, the phenomenal success of something called the Fred channel on YouTube.

Begun a couple of months ago by a fourteen-year-old rural Nebraskan kid called Lucas Cruikshank, the channel already has over 250,000 subscribers and has eclipsed such legendary YouTube shows as lonelygirl15 and kevjumba. Each episode of Fred generates millions of views and tens of thousands of comments on YouTube, and the channel is now the fifth most popular show on YouTube, receiving more views than anything distributed by mainstream media organisations like CBS or the BBC. While slightly less confessional and more creative than most of the content on, Cruikshank's Fred portrays a hyper six-year-old, a post-modern Charlie Brown, traumatised by the angst of dysfunctional suburban and family life.

Although not exactly Spielberg, Scorcese or even Monty Python, his work is funny in a conventionally adolescent sort of way. Cruikshank's challenge, of course, is to translate his enormous online success into cash. The teenage videographer has already signed with Sonesta Entertainment, a southern Californian talent agency, and has begun monetizing his work with product placements on the shows.

Is Fred another silly internet fad? I doubt it. The future of the internet is viral adolescent content like the Fred channel and Fred's YouTube channel mantra is "programming for kids by kids". That's where internet entertainment is going. This time next year, zany Fred and his annoyingly "chipmunked" voice might have been replaced by something even more juvenile – the improv comedy of a farting, burping four-year-old, perhaps. But kids like Lucas Cruikshank and Justin Kan are now controlling the media business. The future, for better or worse, is Fred.

A-list blogger quits for quiet life

IS BLOGGING about to become passé? Jason McCabe Calacanis, web 2.0 entrepreneur, A-list blogger and tech trendsetter, has retired from the blogging game.

Calacanis is the first major league blogger to hang up his keyboard, in what may be an augury for the next chapter of the digital revolution.

"It's with a heavy heart, and much consideration, that today I would like to announce my retirement from blogging," Calacanis wrote on his blog,, on 11 July. Calacanis, it seems, has grown tired of the radically democratised nature of the blogosphere, with its incessant backbiting and all-too-public nastiness.

Calacanis said on his final post: "I'm looking for something more acoustic, something more authentic and something more private.". If openness was the mantra of web 2.0, Calacanis's bombshell suggests that exclusivity might define the next internet age.

So what's now for Calacanis? Instead of a conventional blog, he is sending his thoughts to an email list of no more than 750 handpicked people. This method, Calacanis believes, will generate more meaningful, valuable exchanges.

Calacanis's decision is in the walled-garden spirit of his latest internet venture,, the "human search engine" where he is employing a team of knowledge experts to build a curated online information resource. Just as Calacanis's exclusive email list turns the democratised blogosphere on its head, so the carefully edited information on Mahalo is the antithesis of Google's algorithmically generated search engine.

So how do you subscribe to Calacanis's list? Sign up at Then Jason – and only Jason – will decide if you can join his exclusive club.

Knol presents challenge to Wikipedia. Fact.

AT FIRST glance, Knol, Google's knowledge wiki which formally launched last Wednesday, is just another user-generated version of Wikipedia. Like Jimmy Wales's massively successful online encyclopedia, Knol allows anyone to become an editor and add their own wisdom. Like Wikipedia, too, Knol has neither a central intellectual authority nor any editorial hierarchy and is dependent on the wisdom of its user-contributors to ascertain truth.

But Knol, which means "a unit of knowledge", comes with two potentially very significant upgrades over Wikipedia. Firstly, Knol actively discourages anonymous entries from its editors and even has an online mechanism for allowing credible contributors to verify their identities. Secondly, in contrast with the advertising-free and thus revenue-less Wikipedia, Google is trying to financially reward Knol contributors by crediting them with the money derived from their AdSense program.

Both these upgrades are highly commendable. Google is trying to build a more intellectually reliable open-source information resource which will also enable writers to make a living contributing knowledge. If, like me, you don't trust anonymously authored content, then Knol will be a much more reassuring experience than Wikipedia. And if you are a self-employed expert unwilling to freely donate your wisdom to Wikipedia, then Knol's revenue sharing functionality will help pay the mortgage and feed the kids.

Compared, however, to Wikipedia's more than 7 million articles in over 200 languages, Knol – which currently contains only a few hundred articles mainly focusing on health – is little more than an idea. Could Google's Knol eventually compete with Wikipedia as the dominant online encyclopedia? Perhaps. Go to and make your own decision. If you like Knol sufficiently to want to contribute your wisdom to it, then it is likely to emerge as a credible rival to Wikipedia.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Junior Business Systems Analyst - High Wycombe - £30,000

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Junior Business Systems Analyst role...

Guru Careers: Talent Manager

£30-35k (P/T - Pro Rata) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienc...

Sauce Recruitment: New Media Marketing Manager - EMEA - Digital Distribution

£35000 - £45000 per annum + up to £45,000: Sauce Recruitment: The Internation...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn