About the Concept
Yes, this is a "live" webcam of my office studio. I'm either here or you're looking at an empty chair.
Using a standard USB camera and basic webcam software I am able to add the highly interpersonal dimension of visual connectivity between you and I at any time.
You'll notice that I quote "live" because this isn't a streaming camera. Rather there is a new image processed about once every minute though if you want a self-refreshing window to take advantage of that, you have to open the self-refreshing pop-up viewer.About Personal Webcams
Webcams like these were popular in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Most vintage 'netters know about the first one. Webcams like these in general were the particular realm of technial enthusiasts who loved the attention, perhaps as part of a benign narcissism. Something yours truly might be accused of.
But alas, after a brief period of flirtation people suddenly began rolling their webcams back. You could find "personal webcams" in Google easily until about 2007 or so at which time they began dropping from search results.The Decline of a Really Neat Thing
What happened? Probably a lot of things. First, after the initial bluster of novelty
some most people were
soon creeped out or bothered by the idea. When the consumer web was young people were enthralled
by the potential for maximum outreach and touchback, of which a personal always-on webcam was just a part. But gradually, people
began to realize the perils and dangers involved. Having a public webcam pointed at you and your family
soon made the top of the list of recklessly dangerous interwebs stuff.
Webcams were also directly tied to desktop PCs which were soon replaced by portable laptops and mobile devices. As personal computers slowly failed or became outdated, any webcam driven by them was simply abandoned. A novelty in the first place, people weren't going to go out and replace a dedicated desktop computer just to keep the fun going.
And that assumes any webcam made it that far into the evolution of digital hardware in the first place. Since most personal webcams were set up ad hoc on whim technical problems were rarely addressed if they took time and money to fix. If a webcam driver update was required during an OS upgrade, a certain segment of people just weren't going to bother.
Even up and running fine, webcams were kind of a pain. Simple or complex, it took ongoing attention to keep one up minute to minute. People who failed to bargain for the constant adjustments were probably discouraged when their "24/7" webcams turned out not to be, taking the wind out of the point.
In their final golden years personal webcams were the strict stuff of women monetizing their sexuality, some in a ramp-up to careers with adult cam sites (some of these innocuous personal webcam sites gradually morphed into adult sites, and some adult cam sites posed as innocuous personal ones). Whatever the precise timeline it gradually became more difficult to find "new and clean" personal webcams in Google. Today, ones such as the one I run here at my website, are nearly impossible to find.
They Still Exist - Somewhat
There are webcam sites left, sort of. However these tend to be heavily commercialized and even (in my opinion) "overdone" in that they tend to involve unneccesary live streaming. Enterprise operations like Earthcam host "mass appeal" cam systems, and there are of course, multitudes of adult entertainment webcam sites.
Unstated as it may be the final public consensus is that open webcams do have a useful place in society, just not in our homes or where we sit working. And, with traffic cams being a stark exception, few if anyone sees the point if they are not somehow making money for their operators.
Obviously I run my webcam in stark rebellion of all this common sense or concern. It is cool to be able to drop in on someone without the overhead of Skype or Google Hangouts to see if they are available, or, just to bind in the most passive of ways. A webcam image that updates just once a minute is, technically speaking at a data transfer level, much more efficient than providing a full fledge stream. I suspect that as data capping and metered service begin to take over, people and video conferencing services may opt to add incremental image updating as an option to their platforms.
You can check out the Dave the Web Guy Webcam Directory for examples of other cam sites that are still keeping it all real today.