Smile, you’re on worldwide webcam

30XRBuytRPqJIFysoeMO_narrative.ly_opentopia_There is a nice article about Opentopia on The journalists interviewed us and several owners of the cams you see here on the site.

A scroll through the site Opentopia offers hundreds of such views from publicly available cameras streaming online — more than 820 in the U.S. alone — silently gazing over public parks, into waiting rooms, on front porches. This antidote to reality television encourages patience and discovery: the subtle thrill of live surveillance footage, of watching while being unseen, brings the power of spying to any viewer with a broadband connection and time on their hands.

Webcam aggregation sites touch on the paradox of data availability — we choose to share much of our lives publicly but often feel uneasy at the thought of being watched. The reality is that so much of what we do, especially when viewed through the stationary lens of a webcam, is mundane. In fact, the sheer ordinariness of our day-to-day routines can be seen as protection, a way to inoculate against privacy invasion by turning the Big Brother eye on yourself.

The article discusses this paradox and the border zone between what is public and what isn’t. Indeed, probably most of the cams you find on this site were meant to be public. Some of them are accidental. And that’s part of the intrigue. The cam feeds have been found automatically, so we don’t necessarily know in advance. And don’t assume that you know what people want. The owner of a camera that shows their living room might actually be perfectly fine about sharing it with you. If you yourself wouldn’t be, that’s fine too.

July 5, 2014 at 2:53 pm | Mentions | No comment

A piece of nostalgia

Ah, I just ran into this one again, the time we were covered on Rocketboom. That was a fun show. This is with our old look. The site looks quite different now, which is one of the reasons it is nostalgic to see. But, well, it is still the same principle.

July 1, 2014 at 3:06 pm | Mentions | No comment

The War on Privacy is a War with Ourselves

big1We just noticed this article at Huffington Post that mentioned us. Nothing really earth shattering there, but it is always nice to be mentioned. An excerpt:

Opentopia, a website like many others, works by pulling unprotected, effectively public, live feeds from various sources around the internet. These can (and do) include an office full of square-jawed women in Moscow, an empty car park in Brazil and a university cafeteria in Maryland. With the constant expansion of video surveillance and video networks many, as a result of poor regulation, are as accessible as your mothers battery-operated Friday night special. Just open the draw, root around and there it is.

They lump our kind of webcams in with the recent discussions about Google Glass, the wearable always-on built-into-your-glasses camera that might take pictures of people at any point, without them having explicitly consented to it. The point of the article seems to be more or less that it is unavoidable that our lives get more and more transparent, but that it is mostly rather boring. And that we’re not really going to have privacy unless we stop being interested in snooping on other people’s lives. Well, maybe.

September 8, 2013 at 11:49 pm | Mentions | No comment



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