Reply All: #5 Jennicam
December 17, 2014 8:17 PM - Subscribe

In 1996 Jennifer Ringley started, where she recorded and broadcast her entire life, 24/7. It made her famous. And then, one day, she disappeared from the internet entirely. What'd she figure out about the perils of living publicly before the rest of us did? Alex Goldman tracks her down.
posted by mathowie (14 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
OH MY GOD I loved this show so much because for the last decade or so I've long wondered what ever happened to Jennicam. I found it early in my internet travels, in the 90s, and I occasionally checked in on it every few months. I distinctly remember checking the site for the first time in months and catching the "kissing the other woman's fiance" situation live on the cam and watching her chat room go bonkers.

Given how the whole "camgirl" phenomena happened after it, I always respected how Jennicam wasn't really performing for the camera but just living and didn't play up the celebrity angle.

It was great to hear she's a regular normal adult these days and I'm actually quite surprised that she got to sort of "ragequit" the internet and it actually stuck. You don't see her doxxed to death by her former fans, she doesn't really have any web presence at all anymore and can live a normal life.

I feel like if you started a Jennicam site today, the end result would be waaaay different.
posted by mathowie at 8:22 PM on December 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

Wikipedia entry; good links in the References.

I guess Jennicam might've been one inspiration for the film, The Truman Show.

When the podcaster says he expects her to be 'extreme,' and seems surprised that she's so 'normal', I think he's forgetting what being 19 is like - you don't have the same reservations and barriers that you do at, say 30. You're pretty damn open and pretty flexible with people and new situations. I think that was a strength in her case.

The Letterman parts were a kick. Samuel L. Jackson joking with her? Great anecdote.

(She's *got* to hand the archived stuff to... some museum or institution.)
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 8:57 PM on December 17, 2014

Good on her for being able to walk away and move on with her life.
posted by jazon at 9:22 PM on December 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Re: the Truman Show

Jenni told me she read somewhere that Peter Weir emailed her pseudonymously a couple times while working on the movie, but because she received so much fan mail, it was impossible to know which emails were his.
posted by Alex Goldman at 10:35 PM on December 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

I wasn't familiar with Jennicam before this show, but it definitely brought back nostalgia for the early days of the internet. Especially how so many things that we take for granted (like streaming video) were unheard of 20 years ago. In order to set up her site, she had to program it herself - and that was just still images. Today I'm pretty sure I could download some free turnkey app and set up an Amycam with hardware that's built in to my computer.

Alex, I'm assuming this is related to your most recent AskMe questions?
posted by radioamy at 3:08 PM on December 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

Question: Did Jennifer have a day job (after college)? Or did Jennicam pay the bills?
posted by radioamy at 3:11 PM on December 18, 2014

A1: yes--that was what that question was about.

A2: Jenni actually had a job after college doing web design for National Geographic, but she was fired after drawing too much attention with Jennicam. For a few years after that she was a freelancer before landing a full time job in San francisco.
posted by Alex Goldman at 3:28 PM on December 18, 2014

Pretty cool that AskMe helped your reporting!

I don't suppose you're going to tell us how you actually found her? ...
posted by radioamy at 3:33 PM on December 18, 2014

No sponsor in this episode. That's a bit odd, right?
posted by smackfu at 3:38 PM on December 18, 2014

No, I won't tell you how I found her. Sorry, can't do that. Plus it makes actually pulling it off seem less impressive. I want to seem super impressive.

our show started just before the end of the year, after most companies spent their ad budgets for the year. Sponsors start again in the new year.
posted by Alex Goldman at 4:47 PM on December 18, 2014 [4 favorites]

No worries. I'm impressed.
posted by radioamy at 5:03 PM on December 18, 2014

Also I appreciate your participation in these threads!
posted by radioamy at 5:03 PM on December 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

but she was fired after drawing too much attention

That sucks.
posted by bq at 8:23 AM on December 30, 2014

I thought this had already been linked, but I don't see it:
6 Things About Jennicam I Couldn’t Include in Reply All Episode 5
posted by bq at 8:27 AM on December 30, 2014

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