Dan Brown wants you to tell him how to live for a year.
This Dan Brown isn't the famous author. He's the 20-year-old Lincolnite video blogger who a few years back made a YouTube video about how to solve a Rubik's Cube. It got 16 million views and garnered him a quarter-million followers.
And a new career.
In the hectic time since that first out-of-nowhere success, Brown has posted hundreds of videos, become a YouTube partner and competed on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire." Along the way he managed to graduate from high school (Lincoln East), knock out a few years of college (University of Nebraska-Lincoln) and get a girlfriend (he met her on the Internet).
Brown didn't know what to do next, which largely influenced what he did next.
"It was really just kind of a light-bulb moment," he said.
This winter, Brown was at home, sitting in bed with his Snuggie and laptop at 2 a.m. watching a documentary called "Us Now." The film explores the cultural impact the Internet has had and will continue to have, and the power of crowdsourcing. It got him wondering why "we don't see this decision-making model in more contexts," he said.
He got to thinking about ways he could mimic the model. And then it hit him:
"Why not just give my viewers control of my life?"
This week Brown started his year of crowdsourced living. He launched his new weekday program, "Dan 3.0," on the Internet television company Revision3.
The concept is simple: Tell Dan what to do today.
Cut his hair, take a vacation, see a movie, walk to the nearest city, give 500 people a high-five, work out, set a world record, put on a magic show at an elementary school. Some goals take a day, a week, a month, the full year. Once the to-do's are suggested, Brown's followers can "approve" which activities he should go for. The most popular proposals, Dan will do.
With a few exceptions. He's laid out some ground rules for his followers:
They cannot change his girlfriend or anything about his relationship with her.
They cannot change his family.
They cannot have him do anything with implications beyond the year of the project.
They cannot move him anywhere.
They cannot have him do anything illegal.
They cannot have him do something that hurts himself or others, nor anything that makes anyone else's life miserable.
Save weekends, Brown's full-time job for the next 12 months is having his strings pulled by thousands of strangers. He had to drop out of college to focus fully on the project.
Where the project's headed, what the next year brings him, well, that's not really up to him.
Some anxiety comes with that.
"Some anxiety is a gross understatement," he said. "I've been as stressed as I've ever been in my entire life for these past couple weeks. I've been having nightmares." (One with Leonardo DiCaprio in it, oddly enough).
What if this doesn't work? What if this ruins his life? What if he finds himself in a Russian prison come next summer?
"There's a chance that it will crash and burn and be an epic failure and that will be really sad," he said. "But I think there's a serious chance that my life is going to be pretty friggin' awesome for a year."
Reach Micah Mertes at 402-473-7395 or firstname.lastname@example.org.