I’ve always felt that one of the greatest innovations that the internet has given us is the, now pretty much ubiquitous, webcam. I can vividly remember buying my first webcam, back in the days when 240p was considered high end and even if you were fortunate enough to have a modem that could handle a camera feed, it was still a struggle to find any real practical use for your new toy.
That’s all changed, of course, and now almost anyone can broadcast live in HD quality from the local coffee shop, or even on the move. Except, even with the capacity to do so, I don’t. My own webcam is employed for the occasional Skype call to family and doubles up as a remote security camera when I’m working away – a somewhat pointless exercise, I’ll admit, but at least I’ll be able to see that I’m being robbed, from a distance, if nothing else. I will admit that it’s strangely comforting to be able to see whether the postman’s been and what the weather is like at home, from the confines of a hotel room at the other side of the country.
I have at times considered setting up a feed of the back garden, but a) apart from the birds, squirrels and the fence being blown down, it’s not terribly exciting, and b) who would watch it anyway, when it has to compete with Sultry Sandra baring her all on Live Jasmine.com?
However, whilst my own camera may be gathering dust, I do have to admit to being somewhat addicted to a variety of webcams from around the world. Many are of iconic locations, but most are of places that you may not have heard of – places that I have visited and which hold happy memories for me, and have serendipitously had a webcam set up that can evoke those memories as if they were being made right now.
There is, for example the view of Mount Kenya I had from the balcony of my room when I stayed for one unexpected and exceptional night in the house once owned by Adnan Khashoggi – all I need do is turn on the feed, and once again, I’m there. It’s amazing, and rather fabulously, there are a host of other cameras out there too capable of bringing forth a variety of great moments.
That aside, I’m a fundamentally nosy person – I’m sure I’d make a great spy! And I derive a certain perverse pleasure from being an invisible voyeur to the lives and activities of strangers the other side of the world! I’ve always wanted to be able to do the same in SL too: Having the capability of camming anywhere in the sim is, in my opinion, a top feature of SL – I even have a HUD that allows me to quickly view and switch between multiple locations at the click of a button… If I could have a similar setup, Grid-wide, I’d be more than happy, especially if I could have more than one feed open at the same time.
Better still than that, my ideal SL webcam app would allow remote viewing of multiple inworld locations, whilst offline. Now, you may be thinking, why not just log in and take a look, but that’s not always possible or convenient, and sometimes you just want to keep an eye on what’s going on inworld, whilst you get on with your life outside.
It shouldn’t be too hard to come up with some means for sending a feed to your desktop, without the need to be logged inworld oneself, and I’m surprised that nobody – to my knowledge has ever done it, but even so, I can imagine the reaction from some quarters, including the profile disclaimers prohibiting the viewing, publishing or dissemination of inworld activities without express prior permission. All of which is a bit nonsensical when you consider that those avatars are generally the same ones that publish their every activity and undertaking in Plurk, Facebook and anywhere else they’re guaranteed a fawning audience!
Not that I’m particularly interested in that aspect anyway… All I really want is to have a calming live feed of my Nowhere Land parcel in the corner of my computer screen when I’m going about my general business, just as a reminder of what I’m missing, and what I can look forward to coming home to at the end of a busy day.
And, if you wanted to, I’d be happy to let you check it out too!
On life’s ancient tales
Rush – The Camera Eye