Ringley: The idea behind the site is that I am just a regular person. I'm living a pretty normal life. I don't sing or dance or do tricks or anything. I'm just Jenni.Three-and-a-half years ago, Ringley bought a little Internet camera and trained the lens on herself, broadcasting her daily life from her dorm room in Pennsylvania. She calls it JenniCam.
Ringley: I guess I knew early on it would be popular just based on the way people were talking about it. But I never imagined it would be anything of this scale. In fact, if I had known it would be this popular, I probably would've just screamed and thrown it away.What started as a way to entertain her friends has turned into a thriving Internet business. Ringley started charging a subscription fee of $15 a year, and JenniCam.com is now Ringley's single source of income. Though she refuses to say how many people subscribe to JenniCam, Ringley estimates she gets between 4.5 and 5.5 million hits a day. Of course, only a small percentage of those visitors are subscribers.
Ringley: It's undramatized. I'm not acting, I'm not making stuff up, I'm not hiding anything. It's really like people watching to the nth degree. If you watch people walk by in a park, you're not likely to see them do much other than walking or reading or eating something.If you go to JenniCam.com you'll see Jenni eat or walk or read. Or watch TV or sleep, or take a shower. That's right, a shower. Ringley even works fulltime on JenniCam.com surrounded by ten cameras. The only place she doesn't have a camera is the guest bathroom.
Voog: It seems like I've been doing it all my life. Its almost like a part of me. It's so ingrained in my every pore that I don't even know how I existed without it.Voog regularly broadcasts art performances from her small apartment. Most of the time, though, visitors to Anacam.com are likely to see her sitting, reading, watching TV. You know, life.
Wales: I find it interesting to watch an attractive young woman going about her business."Moby Dick," that's Wales' online name, subscribes to both JenniCam and AnaCam. He says since Voog and Ringley invite millions of people to come and watch, there's no reason he shouldn't. And, Wales says the attraction is more than just titillation. It's real. And it's much more entertaining than watching TV. It's about being able to share in an unedited life.
Wales: I watch Ally McBeal and I watch for an hour and she's in her office and something's not going well and I get a little choked up about it. But then I think, there is no Ally McBeal. She's fiction and she could get cancelled. But Ana and Jenni, they're real people and that's a whole different thing.So television is fiction and Webcams are real? Well, kind of. The paradox in all this fishbowl privacy is that Voog says Anacam.com isn't really about her at all.
Voog: I don't feel like it's my life, you know what I mean? Like other people for some reason that when you take a photo, it's taking away from my life. It's just a photo of my life. I'm in control of my cameras. It's not Ed TV, it's not the Truman Show, it's not Big Brother. It's like me taking control of my cameras and pointing them at what I want to point at.Both Voog and Ringley say they're selling authenticity with unedited abandon, yet they admit that realism is constructed on some level, mainly by what they leave out. As with most daily-life cams, Voog's and Ringley's activities are silent. You can't hear a single word or sound. They say this helps them maintain a sense of privacy. Still, they say they have personal, intimate relationships with their audience.
Block: That's the irony of cyber space.Doug Block is a documentary filmmaker whose film "HomePage," a story about people who post their diaries online, just premiered at Sundance Film Festival this year.
Block: I think we're going to become a nation of JenniCams. The ability to have inexpensive computers and sending stream video in a few years. But that's not going to change what we're looking for online. I don't think it changes what people like Jenni and Ana are looking for online. It all comes back to the need for attention, approval, love.And sex. Webcam technology has become more sophisticated thanks to the porn industry. The majority of online Webcams are pornography sites. Jenni Ringley and Ana Voog have both been accused of enticing visitors to their sites with nudity.
Voog: You'll see my dogs more than you'll see me nude. I'll walk around the house nude if it's hot out or I took a shower, but they will assume I'm making money 'cause it's my body. Well that's what they think. Obviously they're looking at my cam to look at my body cause they think that's what my cam is about, and it's not about that.What it is about is Ana and her life. All of her life -- well almost. Ironically, it is the absence of sound that has been the one thing protecting her privacy while she's online 24 hours a day.