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Webcams: Voyeur meets exhibitionist

By San Francisco Bureau Chief Greg Lefevre


June 18, 1998

(CNN) -- Don't have a life?

No problem. Log on the Web. Live vicariously ... or virtually.

We look over Elizabeth's shoulder as she gives birth. We're looking over everyone's shoulders.

If you can't be there, be virtually there with local cameras. People really log onto those sites and watch.

Jennicam follows a woman in her everyday life. Jenny's having a good or bad day, and we all share it. It's voyeur meets exhibitionist.

We can talk to each other or talk to the animals. Koko the gorilla, who knows American Sign Language, hosts Web chats.

Wanna look, too?

Lots of folks keep lists of sites with Web cams. Yahoo sorts by category, including some oddities. Or click on Ozone? Is that a smog cam? Try

Tom Abate of the San Francisco Chronicle says we're all invited to the Internet version of "The Truman Show." For the counterattack, visit

So, what's next?

Reach out and touch someone ... virtually. With those really cool sensor gloves and a hot modem, you can shake hands without really being there -- safely, anonymously -- or just cuddle the dancing baby that's not really there.

We even parody the wackiness. John's Wallcam stares at his wall (which is what some of us might be doing if we weren't staring at the computer.)

We may think we're ready for this, but do you want the world to see your every move -- with word that Singapore wants to limit Internet access and the Chinese government wants to "filter" what enters the country on the Internet? (Would conservative governments allow a live birth on television?)

Are we enriched by seeing someone's live birth, by seeing Jenni's bathroom or by seeing John's wall?

Do we put these things on the Internet because we should ... or merely because we can?

Surf on...

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