Web-cam sites offer odd sights

Sunday, May 10, 1998

The Cincinnati Enquirer

The Internet, with its tens of millions of Web sites, offers something for everyone. Even peeping toms.

Folks who like to look into windows can find lots of windows on the Internet, courtesy of some equally strange folks who like to provide an electronic peephole for the world.

This is accomplished with some very simple technology: a digital camera connected to a computer. The computer snaps an electronic image of whatever it's pointed at and uploads it to a Web site every few minutes.

The electronic voyeur then logs into the Web site of the obliging exhibitionist to study the pictures.

These sites, called "Cam" or "Web-cam" sites, have been a Web spectacle for several years. Netscape itself provided one of the early cam sites with a constantly updated picture of a fish tank.

But things have changed.

Web-cams are becoming a quick way to Internet fame -- or infamy.

A peek at Jennifer It helps if you are a 20-ish strawberry blonde. Just ask Jennifer of Washington, D.C., who is the star of her own JenniCam site http://www.jennicam.org Jenni and her cat Macadamia are the stars of arguably one of the most popular Web-cam sites in cyberspace. She's even appeared on NBC's Today show and in national newsmagazines.

Her Web-cam sits on the top of her computer, so frequently, she can be seen working. As you could probably guess, she is a Web designer. Jenni is such a popular attraction on the Web that someone has even created a parody of her site at http://www.wescam.com

Ana Voog is another young woman who enjoys showing the world the contents of her Minneapolis apartment via her AnaCam site at http://www.anacam.com Ana, who calls herself a performance artist, occasionally parades around her apartment in the altogether, making her site occasionally R-rated.

While this sounds rather prurient, most of the Web-cam sites listed at Yahoo! are much more mundane.

At Deanna's Live Babycam http://members.aol.com/BabyDeanna/Can.htm Deanna's proud parents have put a digital cam looking down into her crib.

Dan Moore has put his dorm room online at the Amazing Blumberg Cam http://cam.68k.org His site is part of the Live Web-cams ring. (A ring is a group of linked Web sites with a common theme.)

Todd Golebiewski has a Web-cam attached to a fan sitting next to his desk in his Michigan apartment And at Feet Cam http://www.dcs.qmw.ac.uk/~nickbk/web_camera/ you can look at the feet of a British graduate student.

Totally useless?

Some might argue that putting yourself on the Internet is one of the fastest-growing dumb things to do on the Internet. See Mike at work, Peter at home or a shot of Zoey's Deli & Bakery in Manchester, Vt. http://www.zoeys.com/zoeycam.shtml

Perhaps a bit more educational is a bird's-eye view of a bald eagle's nest in Massachusetts. Visitors can watch a pair of eagles raise their newly hatched eaglet. The eagle cam, part of the Northeast Utilities Web site at http://www.nu.com is a joint project of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the state of Massachusetts and the power company, which owns the island that is home to the nest.

On the other end of the animal spectrum is the personal Web site of an 8-year-old black cat from Santa Cruz, Calif. KittyCam http://www2.kittycam.com/kittycam/ is a project of a marketing firm. Other pet cams can be found at Pet-of-the-day http://www.petoftheday.com/links/

Again, the marvelous technology of the Internet has been used to create something totally useless.

Send e-mail to Charles Brewer at CBrewer@enquirer.com.