One of the longest-running, and the most popular, personal cams is the Jennicam. She has been on the cam for three years, first via a camera in her college dorm room (until the volume of traffic got her thrown off the college network) and subsequently via a camera in her Washington DC apartment.
Jenni never turns off the camera and carries on with what she is doing as though no one is watching: getting changed, sleeping, hanging out with her boyfriend, the same things that everyone does, a normal, unexceptional life: "Visitors either get it or get out," she says.
ALEX: First of all, let me say thank you for doing this. Honestly, she was mostly curious if her mom had given me her number. She would call me .” ALEX: Jenni and I ended up talking for about three hours, During which she told me the whole story. At the time Jennifer Ringley was a junior at Dickinson College in Pennsylvania, she stumbled upon a new piece of technology at her college bookstore. I pretty quickly realized I didn’t have anything to do with it, and I had just spent a good chunk of money at the bookstore on this camera.
ALEX: why did you think it was your mom who had given me your phone number? They’re still fully listed in the phone book and everything, and I was hoping that she hadn’t done that again. So it was basically a programming challenge to myself to see if I could set up the script that would take the pictures, upload them to this site – just to get that happening automatically, and I shared it with a couple of friends, kinda “look, I got this working.” And I thought it was kind of neat.
Although webcams (an abbreviation for camera on the Internet web) are only now really taking off outside the US, the medium actually started in Britain, in 1991, when the Internet was still the province of academia and the army.
A group of students in Cambridge University's computer department got sick of trailing down flights of stairs to the nearest coffee machine only to find it empty.
"We didn't see any gang members, with baggy pants and shaven heads - I think the word in England is `yobs'.In New York, a cult developed around the Upper West Side Cam, a busy road junction viewed from the study of David Spector, an IT consultant.Locals used it to check the weather, to see what the traffic was like and to look for parking spaces before setting out.Everyone seemed prosperous and happy." But it was only when webcams went personal and captured people's real lives, that the medium began to find a mass audience.Indoor cams now make up 60 per cent of all cams, according to Sherri Uhrick at Earthcam, the online directory of webcam sites around the world, and she sees personal cams as the major area of growth.
His column “Computer Love” explores the weird world of human sexuality in the 21st century.