£200 a month to let the entire world see you doing the washing-up. Who could resist?
Duncan delves into the new trend of live-streaming your home shenanigans online (he doesn’t know we’ve secretly installed a camera in his house).
Andy Warhol got it wrong. In the future, everyone will be famous at 15Mbps
How much would you want in return for someone setting up a load of live-streaming cameras in your house, then letting everyone in the world monitor you at all times?
How about 200 quid and free broadband? Well, you could run up a big bill otherwise, what with all that video constantly uploading of you in your pants, unblocking the sink.
You might very well think, “You know what? Actually I’m all right, mate,” but the offer is there, from an enterprising outfit called CamSoda.
It will, subject to certain contractual niceties, set you up with three ‘custom-built’ webcams, livestreaming in HD quality. Although, actually, it’s only 720p, so not real HD.
Now, in the cause of journalistic verisimiltude, I decided to conduct some in-depth research into CamSoda – ie: I Googled the name.
Where I expected to find a seriousminded broadcaster, a bit like the BBC in the 1950s, I was shocked – shocked! – to discover them promising the kind of ‘programmes’ you would never find David Attenborough fronting. No, not even when he’s working for Sky.
As T3 is a publication, I won’t belabour you with the details, but put it this way: the ‘shows’ had quite low production values and an extremely limited wardrobe department. Though the ‘performers’ were, admittedly, in excellent physical condition.
All-night bed show
So, okay, CamSoda is a porn company. Fine. What’s interesting about its 24/7, multi-camera, 1984-but-nude concept is they are adamant that it needn’t necessarily involve sex. Well, at my place, the chance would be a fine thing.
This suggests that what they are really after is an infinite number of Only Way is Essex-style, home-made, scripted reality shows. They are angling for people who like to make their whole life a performance.
Why? To amuse a jaded population of voyeurs who come on the off-chance that there will be bonking, and stay for the dramatic vignettes of life in an Accrington flat share, and the ability to watch strangers eating cornflakes.
Admittedly, perusing the rest of CamSoda’s output does suggest that what the company would really like is for the ‘performers’ to be exclusively attractive ladies, and for there to be 24/7 shagging, in multiple rooms of every house under surveillance.
That strikes me as unrealistic and hard to monetise, however. There’s hardly a shortage of porn on the web, and nobody can have sex 24/7, apart from Sting. And to be honest, I think he’s got better things to do than be the public face of an online porn company.
The thing is, you just know this will be a hit. Your first reaction might be, “Wow, this is a new low, surely nobody’s going to sign up for this, as either performer or viewer?”
But your second reaction, on thinking about it is, “Who am I kidding? People will love this!”
The basic concept is that of longforgotten TV show Big Brother. If you’re a civilised person, you might be surprised to learn that BB continues to this day, but thankfully only on Channel 5, where it will never be seen by anyone sentient. In truth, the contestants on BB are actually carefully vetted to ensure they aren’t totally demented – although a bit demented is fine – or irredeemably boring.
This opens up the human zoo to anyone in need of £200 (`16,400) a month. As an interesting extension of the concept, CamSoda is also keen that participants use other social channels to post about each day’s most dramatic events. This is why I think it will end up going a bit ‘scripted reality’; most people just don’t have that much drama in their lives. The result will be a sort of gesamtkunstwerk of attention-seeking fools, live on camera, 24/7/365.
When this takes off, as it inevitably will, what will be the result? Will we all become simultaneously performers and voyeurs? Logically, by the middle of the century, people could be sitting down to watch other people watching live cameras. Like Gogglebox, but with more drooling.
‘Stars’ used to be otherworldly people with some outrageous talent in the arts, sports or other fields. Now it’s anyone with a camera and minimal selfconsciousness. Andy Warhol got it wrong. In the future, everyone will be famous at 15Mbps.