Jennifer Kaye Ringley
August 10, 1976
|Other names||Jennifer Johnson|
|Website||jennicam.org at the Wayback Machine (archived December 27, 2003)|
Jennifer Kaye Ringley (born August 10, 1976) is an Internet personality and former lifecaster. She is widely regarded as the first camgirl. She is known for creating the popular website JenniCam. Previously, live webcams transmitted static shots from cameras aimed through windows or at coffee pots. Ringley's innovation was simply to allow others to view her daily activities. She was the first web-based "lifecaster". She retired from lifecasting at the end of 2003.
In June 2008, CNET hailed JenniCam as one of the greatest defunct websites in history.
Regarded by some as a conceptual artist, Ringley viewed her site as a straightforward document of her life. She did not wish to filter the events that were shown on her camera, so sometimes she was shown nude or engaging in sexual behavior, including sexual intercourse and masturbation. This was a new use of Internet technology at the time and some viewers were interested in its sociological implications while others watched it for sexual arousal. The JenniCam website coincided with a rise in surveillance as a feature of popular culture, exemplified by reality television programs such as Big Brother, and as a feature of contemporary art and new media art. From a sociological point of view, JenniCam was an important early example of how the internet could create a cyborg subject by integrating human images with the internet. As such, JenniCam set the stage for conversations regarding the relationship of technology and gender.
"It was basically a programming challenge to myself to see if I could set up the script that would take the pictures, upload them to this site,...just to get that happening automatically, and I shared it with a couple of friends, kinda 'look, I got this working.'"
Ringley's desire to maintain the purity of the cam-eye view of her life eventually created the need to establish that she was within her rights as an adult to broadcast such information, in the legal sense, and that it was not harmful to other adults. Unlike later for-profit webcam services, Ringley did not spend her day displaying her naked body and she spent much more time discussing her romantic life than she did her sex life. Ringley maintained her webcam site for seven years and eight months.
Sources stated that JenniCam received seven million visitors daily. Nate Lanxon of CNET said "remember this is 1996 and the Web as we know it now had barely lost its virginity, let alone given birth to the God-child we know as the modern Internet."
On April 3, 1996, during her junior year at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, the 19-year-old Ringley installed a webcam in her college dorm room. On April 14, 1996, raised as a nudist, Ringley starts JenniCam, providing images from that cam on a website. The webpage would automatically refresh every three minutes with the most recent picture from the camera. Initially, anyone with Internet access could observe the often mundane events of Ringley's life; however, in June 1997, Ringley started charging viewers for full entry to her site. JenniCam was one of the first web sites that continuously and voluntarily surveyed a private life. Her first webcam contained only black-and-white images of her in the dorm room. JenniCam attracted up to four million views a day at its peak.
At times during the first couple of years of JenniCam, Ringley performed stripteases for the webcam. This continued until an incident occurred in 1997, wherein she was discovered by a group of hackers on Efnet who teased her for their own amusement. After she reacted humorously to their taunts, JenniCam was hacked, and Ringley received death threats. The hackers turned out to be approximately 100 people including a handful of teen pranksters, Ringley stopped doing stripteases after that.
Initially, the camera tended to be turned off during especially private moments, but eventually this custom was abandoned, and images were captured of Ringley engaging in sex.
When Ringley moved to Washington, D.C. in 1998, she added webcams to cover the additional living space (four webcams captured images of her life), in both the office and bedroom. One camera - a Mac WebCam - captured the rooms at the clip of one photo per minute, even when vacant, and posted them to her web page. In the FAQ section of JenniCam.org, Ringley explained, "I don't feel I'm giving up my privacy. Just because people can see me doesn't mean it affects me - I'm still alone in my room, no matter what... I never feel a need to hide anything going on anyway."
She began charging for access to her site, allowing both paid and free access with the paid access updating the images more frequently than the free access. She added more pages to her website that included pictures of her cats and ferrets. Her site was doing well as she stayed home and listed her profession as "web designer" for her site.
As Ringley attracted a following both on and off the Internet, more than 100 media outlets from The Wall Street Journal to Modern Ferret ran features. Ringley owned several ferrets and Modern Ferret featured Jenni and one of her pets on the front cover. As an actress, she was cast in "Rear Windows '98," a 1998 episode of the TV series Diagnosis: Murder, portraying Joannecam, a fictionalized version of herself. She also hosted her own Internet talk show titled The Jennishow on The Sync, an early webcasting network based in Laurel, Maryland.
Ringley's standard of living improved with a new larger apartment, expensive furniture and several business trips to Amsterdam with her accountant. She claimed that the experience improved her self-image and self body image. Ringley began to take trips to visit other cam girls, including Ana Voog of Anacam.com.
At the height of her popularity, an estimated three to four million people watched JenniCam.org daily. She eventually purchased the domain jennicam.com as well. She appeared July 31, 1998 as a guest on the Late Show with David Letterman. At the end of the interview, and even after having been corrected once, Letterman plugged the site as Jennicam.net instead of the correct Jennicam.com (Ringley owned both Jennicam.com and Jennicam.org). People visiting the previously non-existent Jennicam.net found a pornographic site with the greeting, "Thanks Dave".
When Ringley moved to Sacramento, California, she documented the boxing of her possessions with free live streaming and full audio. Ringley received some criticism from fans when she became involved with Dex, a man who was the fiancé of a fellow webcammer and friend who helped her move to California.
By 2007, Ringley had worked for a web developer after a brief stint as a case worker for a social services agency in Sacramento. Out of the public eye, she stated, "I really am enjoying my privacy now. I don't have a web page; I don't have a MySpace page. It's a completely different feeling, and I think I'm enjoying it."
In December 2014, Ringley spoke to the podcast Reply All about her experiences with Jennicam; the podcast noted that Jenny "is almost entirely absent from the Internet ... just the way she likes it."
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- "Tales from the Net". This American Life. Episode 66. June 6, 1997. 16 minutes in. NPR.
Conversation with Jennifer Ringley
- Krotoski, Aleks (October 17, 2016). "Jennifer". The Digital Human. Season 10. BBC. BBC Radio 4.
- Ringley, Jennifer. "JenniCam Frequently Asked Questions". boudoir.org. Archived from the original on December 10, 1997. Retrieved May 8, 2011.
- "Press Release: JENNICAM HOSTS FIRST WEB BROADCAST FROM AN INDEPENDENT MOVIE SET". Hollywood PA - - Live Internet Broadcast of Independent Film Production, Live Streaming Video, Digital Video Camera. Archived from the original on March 2, 2001. Retrieved May 4, 2022.
Since Ringley started live broadcasting from her dormitory room three years ago, she has attracted an international fan base with an average daily hit rate of 5 million...Ringley first attempted live web casting from her dormitory room at Pennsylvania's Dickinson College. Soon Ringley established such a large following that her server could not supply the necessary capacity. In order to limit the number of hits, she attempted to keep the web address private, and changing it on a regular basis. It had the opposite effect, however.
- "Jennifer Ringley". Hollywood PA - Live Internet Broadcast of Independent Film Production, Live Streaming Video, Digital Video Camera. Archived from the original on January 19, 2001. Retrieved May 4, 2022.
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- Banet-Weider, Sarah (2013). "Branding the Post-feminist Self:: Girls' Video Production and YouTube". In Kearney, Mary Celeste (ed.). Mediated Girlhoods: New Explorations of Girls' Media Culture. New York: Peter Lang. pp. 51–71. ISBN 9781433105616.
- Lanxon, Nate (June 5, 2008). "The greatest defunct Web sites and dotcom disasters". CNET. Archived from the original on June 7, 2008. Retrieved June 5, 2008.
- Baldwin, Steve (May 19, 2004). "Forgotten Web Celebrities: Jennicam.org's Jennifer Ringley". Disobey.com: Content for the discontented (blog). Retrieved March 27, 2014.
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- Reply All (April 13, 2015). "Jennicam And The Birth Of 'Lifecasting'". digg. Retrieved May 4, 2022.
- Knibbs, Kate (April 14, 2015). "Jennicam: Why the First Lifecaster Disappeared from the Internet". Gizmodo. Retrieved May 4, 2022.
- Keith, Jordan (2014). "Webcam Models". Pandora Modelling. Archived from the original on January 9, 2014. Retrieved March 24, 2014.
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- Firth, Simon (January 8, 1998). "21st: Live! From my bedroom". Salon. Archived from the original on October 13, 2003.
- "JenniCam Closing After 7+ Years". slashdot. December 31, 2003.
- "Jennicam: The first woman to stream her life on the internet". BBC News. October 17, 2016. Retrieved May 4, 2022.
- Lanxon, Nate (June 5, 2008). "The greatest defunct Web sites and dotcom disasters". CNET. Archived from the original on August 6, 2010. Retrieved May 13, 2011.
- "This Day in Geek History: April 14". The Great Geek Manual. Archived from the original on March 31, 2009. Retrieved May 4, 2022.
- Dennis, David H. "Jennifer Ringley doesn't live here anymore ..." Amazing (blog). Archived from the original on June 5, 2004.
- * Weeks, Linton (September 20, 1997). "Web site for voyeur eyes". The Washington Post.
- Birgen, Joseph John James. "Jennifer Kaye Ringley". Gremlin (blog). Archived from the original on June 11, 2004.
- Allen, Jamie (March 26, 1999). "'Ed' of the Internet: JenniCAM going strong after three years". CNN.
- Calvert, Clay (2004). Voyeur Nation: Media, Privacy, and Peering in Modern Culture. Critical Studies in Communication and in the Cultural Industries (2nd ed.). Boulder, Colorado, USA: Westview Press. p. 47. ISBN 9780813342368.
- Ringley, Jennifer. "Frequently Asked Questions". jennicam.org. Archived from the original on April 21, 1999.
- "Chatting with Jennicam". Modern Ferret. No. 28. Archived from the original on December 17, 2003.
- Weeks, Linton (February 16, 1998). "The Moving Pixel Show". The Washington Post.
- Savin, Jake (September 22, 1997). "Jennifer Ringley is her own paparazzi". j-space (blog).
- "Harmful to Minors Law Going to Court in New Mexico". Webcasters Coalition for Free Speech. September 21, 1999. Archived from the original on June 21, 2004.
- "PROVOCATIVE EXHIBITION AT MOMA TRACES THE COMPLEX CONNECTIONS BETWEEN PHOTOGRAPHY AND FAME" (PDF). June 1999.
- Cabron, Lou (July 27, 2000). "Little Jenni Homewrecker: Web vixen gets shot by her own cam". GettingIt. Archived from the original on June 23, 2004.
- Wallack, Todd (December 12, 2003). "Curtains in the bedroom – JenniCam switches off". San Francisco Chronicle.
- "R.I.P. JenniCam". BBC News. January 1, 2004.
- Merriman, John (December 12, 2003). "Good-bye, JenniCam ..." The Dickinsonian. Archived from the original on May 10, 2004.
- "Voyeur Web site JenniCam to go dark". CNN. December 10, 2003.
- Haines, Lester (December 10, 2003). "Reg seeks poetic JenniCam memorial". The Register.
- Teachout, Terry (December 11, 2003). "Jenni's Footnote". National Review. Archived from the original on February 17, 2004.
- "Behind the Scenes with Jennifer Ringley", segment of "Webjunk" on VH1, posted to IFILM on March 18, 2007.
- Krotoski, Aleks (October 18, 2016). "Jennicam: The first woman to stream her life on the internet". BBC News.
- Krotoski, Aleks (October 17, 2016). "Jennifer". The Digital Human. Season 10. BBC. BBC Radio 4.
- Alptraum, Lux (July 22, 2018). "There Is Life After Campus Infamy". New York Times. Retrieved July 22, 2018.
- Jennifer Ringley at IMDb
- www.jennicam.org/~jenni/livecam (Archive)
- JenniCam as seen by Paul J.R. Brown
- Jennicam at jennicam.org (Archive)
- Jennicam at jennicam.com (Archive)
- A note from Jen's lawyers at boudoir.org (Archive)
- All 43 Episodes of JenniShow
- Jennifer Ringley appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman