Top 5 webcam feeds you didn't know about

James Billington Staff Writer

The webcam is an overlooked and underrated product. It has masses of potential, but think of blocky and lag-ridden conversations and painful attempts to chat to tech-lexic relatives from abroad, it's clear we've not yet completely got to grips with the webcam.

Aside from nefarious adult deviance, and the aforementioned stutter-riddled digital family reunions, it seems most people have simply given up on webcams.

My mission

Or so I thought. Ever a champion of the underdog, I decided to have a scour on the information superhighway to see what constructive use people were actually getting from their webcams.

I wasn't interested in a fuzzy picture of a Greek restaurant updated every 30 seconds. Nor was I going to be lured down the slipperly slope of clicking on adult chat cams – I'd never have finished (or probably even started, this piece if I had). I wanted to see the unique but everyday things people felt compelled to share with the world.

And I was pleasantly surprised.

This is my top 5:

1. Live in New York Take a look around Greenwich village in New York. There's always something going on no matter what time you click on. I've taken to zooming in on a magazine vendor who looks strikingly like Rock 'n' roll singer Little Richard. The cam itself responds quickly to your movements and the picture is pretty decent.

2. Crocodile cams: If I'm having a bad day I like nothing other than taking a look at the controllable feed at Gatorland in Florida. You get 60 seconds of control with a good picture, the option of turning on a backlight, and a good response time if there's not many other 'gator watchers online. The dangerous reptiles don't do much, but I can't help myself continuing to watch on the off-chance an unlucky handler might succumb to a trip.

3. Tattoo cam: Because not everyone is getting their skin inked every second of the day, I had to wait for an email to say when the webcam is switched on. When I did, I was able to see someone grimace in agony as they got a tattoo, completely live. It's quite hard to see what design they've opted for, but all I needed to do was imagine the sinister buzz of the needle and ensuing howls of pain.

4. Catch a ghost: Here's one for ghost hunters, with 28 different live feeds from different haunted sites. Although I've got about as much chance as seeing anything paranormal as getting Barack Obama to say "bum" in his inaugral speech, all the images – especially the doll's house – have a creepy enough feel to make you think you might see a lamp fly across the room.

5. Garden cam: Okay, I admit. This webcam is rubbish. All you get is a picture of someone's back garden. It's not even that landscaped, and because of the time difference you hardly see it in the light here in the UK. So why would I want to spend time looking at it? the press at the button I could trigger a stream of bubbles from a bubble machine. Wheee. I'm easily impressed.

Worst webcam:

Watch paint dry: Why anyone would want to watch this is beyond me. Perhaps the irony is lost while I'm actually doing something vaguely interesting. I was given the option of three webcams which all pointed towards a wall that had, I was told, been painted. I can't confirm if the paint was actually drying or how how much of my life I lost looking at this, but I can confirm this is more fun than watching any episode of a daytime TV DIY show.


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