Live streaming is very popular today, and with the launch of apps such as Meerkat, Periscope, Instagram and Snapchat. But “Lifecasting” is different or a more aggressive form of live streaming.
“Lifecasting” has now become a thing, there are many life casters who broadcast their lives 24/7 on the internet. Documenting everyday life and mundane activities online is not a new phenomenon. It was all started by a 19-year-old college student named Jennifer Ringley way back in 1996.
Raised as a nudist, 19-year old Jennifer Ringley installed the webcam in her dorm room at Pennsylvania’s Dickinson College as an experiment in a real-time documentary.
In her junior year at Dickinson College, Jennifer Ringley came across a webcam, a new technology at the time, at the college bookstore. After she brought it back to her dorm room, she felt clueless about what she would do with it. So she used her programming skills and configured the webcam.
Jennicam started as a programming project to test if her script runs correctly where it’ll snap a picture on her webcam every 15 minutes. The device took a static image of her room every 15 minutes, the pictures would then be posted on her website called Jennicam allowing viewers a look at her daily activities, from reading and studying to romantic encounters.
The camera was on 24 hours a day and seven days a week!. The student shared every uncensored detail of her life, in what she called a “virtual human zoo”. Her website read. “JenniCam is virtually unedited and uncensored.
The camera kept rolling and uploading pictures even when she was not in the room! Thus, Jennifer Ringley became the inventor of web-based “lifecasting.”
Who knew it wasn’t too long before it turned into an art project that has taken the internet by storm. She became famous for broadcasting her life 24/7 from her dorm room. At its peak, her website, Jennicam, got 7 million hits per day. As one of the most popular websites on the Internet, it received a significant portion of online traffic at that time.
Jennicam became hugely popular and made Jennifer a famous Internet personality in a matter of two years.
Her website received over 7 million hits every day, and she even appeared on David Letterman! She played a geek character in 1998 on TV series Diagnosis Murder. Over 100 media outlets including Modern Ferret and The Wall Street Journal ran features on her. She also appeared on World News Tonight With Peter Jennings and The Today Show.
When she relocated to Washington, D.C., in 1998, Ringley added three more webcams and began charging through PayPal for “premium” access to more-frequent image uploads. Earning her living from the site, Ringley emerged as a web-empowered cult of personality.
Jennifer started broadcasting her life around the clock, many other people tried to do the same, but none of them found the success or recognition she had as a pioneer “lifecaster.”
After a successful run of seven years and eight months, Jennicam was shut down in 2003.
At that time, she cited PayPal’s anti-nudity policy as the primary reason for the discontinuation. However, in truth, Jennifer wanted to reclaim her private life after living in the public eye for nearly a decade. She disappeared completely from the Internet. Today, 40-year-old Jennifer is a married woman and a computer programmer living in Sacramento, California.