I gave in to my voyeuristic side and put the JenniCam slashbox on my slashdot homepage. For a while, it was good clean fun, seeing someone else cook, do housework, stare at the monitor (do I look that inane when I'm noding? probably), etc. Recently, every time I open up slashdot, there's that little picture of Jenny's bedroom, and oh dear, she's having wild naughty sex AGAIN.

About the last 4 or 5 times I've tried reading slashdot, there was a little nekkid Jenny, cavorting in the throes of passion in the corner of the screen. you might think that being a normal young American male, I would find this to be erm... stimulating. I don't; it invites unwelcome comparison to my life, which is (at least for now) utterly devoid of sex. Urgh, I'm going to go turn off that damn slashbox right now. Can two people really do... that? Hmm, maybe I'll leave it for a little longer...

Jennicam (www.jennicam.com) is a phenomenon. The internet is full of one hit wonders, those quickly propagating, quickly disappearing memes like the hamster dance or the I kiss you guy, and when jennicam first took off, it probably looked that way too, but jenni has persisted.

Jennicam is a 24/7 webcam run by Jennifer Ringley who, assuming she doesn't make enough money off of subscriptions to her site, also works as a web design type person, unsurprisingly. The site is free, and updates every 15 minutes, but a subscription will get you updates every minute instead. Nothing remarkable here, there are a hundred like it, neh?

It's tough to say what makes jennicam different, but there are a couple things that probably contribute:

  • There is at least SOME form of free access
  • It's 24/7, never stops. You watch her sleep, you watch her eat lunch - if she goes out, you watch an empty house, or an empty computer chair, or the cats.
  • It's been on the web since 1996, so there's some inertia there, some built-up following
  • Jenni is a 20-something blonde who more than occasionally appears naked, and sometimes with other naked people in close proximity.

It's tough to say which of those holds the most sway.

Seriously though, people stick with jennicam, and not even for the sex. It's... it's just comfortable, I guess. It's someone else, living their life, someone who has integrated the cameras so well into their life that you don't feel like they're acting. It's a phenomenon, like I said, and it can get into your head. As Cid mentions, slashdot lets you put jenni on your front page, and it wouldn't surprise me to know that the number of people who do so is pretty large. I remember reading Rob Malda's pre-IPO diary, in Wired magazine, and he said that one of the things that kept him sane during the pre-IPO silent period was jennicam - he was cut off from a lot of his regular online life, but there was Jenni, this other person, living her life, and he formed a connection with her.

I dunno, it's late, maybe I'm waxing too poetic, but jenni's perseverance, if nothing else, should show you that I'm basically right. The site seems to click with people.

Maybe it's just the free porn.

Dec. 31, 2003: Jennicam has closed. I suppose I have only myself to blame, for lauding her perseverance. In the name of grammato-historical accuracy, please mentally change all verbs to their past-tense forms while reading.

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