Webcams make the world feel magic, and that's why they have survived 17 years on the internet. The webcam has evolved from still images to video, from tiny, muddy pictures to pristine 4k streams. Video technologies like Twitch, Snapchat, and Skype haven't killed the appeal of a mounted camera pointed at the same spot 24/7.
Webcams aren't part of a typical workflow; most of us go months or years without looking at one. But every now and then, people share their favourite webcams in a thread on Metafilter, Reddit, or some other forum, and the world gathers to watch. Here are some great cams from the latest roundup on AskReddit.
- Shibuya scramble crossing: As seen above, the Shibuya crossing is that giant, Times Square-looking intersection that shows up in every travel montage of Tokyo. When the signal changes, pedestrians can walk in any direction. "The BEST cam on a rainy day," says Redditor jksdfjklsf.
- EarthCam: A site full of webcams at famous locations like Times Square, Wrigley Field, the Eiffel Tower, a beach in Aruba, Dublin's Temple Bar, and Jerusalem's Western Wall. I mean, I could walk to the actual Times Square right now, but I still get a frisson from spying on everyone at the TKTS booth.
- Disneyland Mattercam: Get a rotating view of Matterhorn Mountain and Space Mountain from the nearby Howard Johnson.
- Abbey Road Studios: The great thing about tourists recreating the famous Beatles album cover is that they're holding up real, actual traffic. The posers are so unrelenting that it's amazing anyone still tries to drive through this intersection. I'm writing this at 10:53 PM London time, and I just watched three guys do the Beatles pose while a car waited.
- US 2km Marker 0: You can also watch tourists take photos of the end of the country's longest north-south road, in Key West, Florida. It looks both futile and charming.
- Ebisu Circuit: Plenty of cams on this Japanese racetrack.
- Archie Europe RotondeCam: A pleasant traffic roundabout north of Amsterdam.
- Pete's Pond: I hear something howling at this pond inside a Botswana game reserve. I don't know what it is.
- Watching Grass Grow: While listening to a surprisingly jazzy MIDI file. If you're lucky you'll see passerby or a lawn decoration.
- Shin-Osaka Train Station: Listen to the soothing susurration of the trains.
- Virtual Railfan: A set of webcams from various train crossings and stations.
- Jackson Hole Town Square: This intersection cam had a viral moment in 2016. "Jackson Trading Company, a gift shop in the left of the frame, blurred out their name sometime on Monday, for reasons unknown," said travel blog Atlas Obscura. "Perhaps it's because they have a competing webcam, showing the square from a slightly different angle."
- LINGsCARS: You can click to play "500 Miles" out loud, but it barely adds to the cacophony in the zany office of this zany UK car-leasing website. If you've ever watched Nathan Barley, you'll get flashbacks.
- Cat's Meow Karaoke: jz68's favourite EarthCam is inside a Bourbon Street bar. "Watching drunk people sing can be very entertaining."
- Las Vegas wedding chapel: Or watch people get married!
- Let's Robot: Control robots and watch them move around rooms. You can even make them talk.
- Temple Bar: Step inside this Dublin bar (outdoor view available above) and hear a band play.
- Centennial Light Bulb: The longest-burning light bulb lives in a Bay Area firehouse.
- Insecam: Not all of these webcams were supposed to be public. This site is part voyeurism, part warning about being careful about making sure your security camera is actually secure. Browsing around yielded construction sites and businesses, but no shots inside homes. But one of the ads on this digital billboard is ironic.
- Willard Library Ghost Cams: Three slowly refreshing cameras pointed at rooms in a library. But wait, is that just someone moving quickly in dark clothing (yes), or is it a g-g-g-ghost (no)!?
- Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary: The Senior Dog Gathering Room is one of many dog cams on the explore.org webcam portal.
- Kitten Academy: Watch foster kittens eat, sleep, and play in a room full of toys and cat cubbies.
- James' Guinea Pigs: Redditor CoolJWR100, or James, streams two pet guinea pigs. James wrote about how to set up a webcam using a Raspberry Pi.
- Brooks Falls Brown Bears: Watch bears frolic in the water in Alaska's Katmai National Park.
- Naked Mole Rat Colony: Watch these wriggly pink rodents at Seattle's Pacific Science Center. There are disclaimers to explain that healthy, happy naked mole rats still look freaky.
- San Diego Zoo Cams: Elephants, apes, pandas, and more.
- Atka the wolf: Watch this white puff boy at the Wolf Conservation Center in upstate New York.
- Jellyfish cam: "Delicate sea nettles" at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. There are also cams of penguins, sharks, and other aquatic life.
- Sea Otter Cam: Watch otters swim at the Vancouver Aquarium.
- Africam: Watch wildlife in four parks and reserves in South Africa.
- Decorah Bald Eagles: Watch eagles nest every year in Decorah, Iowa. "After two of this pair's nests were destroyed, the Raptor Resource Project team began constructing this nest with the hopes that the eagles would take it over and build upon it — and they have!"
- Great Spirit Bluff Falcons and Anacapa Peregrine Falcon Cam: Two more seasonal raptor cams.
- International Space Station's view of earth: As TheRageDragon puts it: Watch your own fucking planet from space. You can also see where on earth the ISS is orbiting over.
- Hawaiian Volcano Observatory: 27 cameras, both visual and thermal, of Hawaiian volcanos and lava flows. One volcano just quieted down this week after months of dangerous eruption.
- Remote Glow Discharge Experiment: Control a plasma tube and make it glow.
- The Tenth Pitch Drop Watch: The Queensland pitch drop experiment is the world's longest uninterrupted experiment, and now anyone can wait for the ninth drop to break free of this piece of extremely viscous liquid. The last drop fell four years ago; the one before that fell 14 years earlier and happened while the webcam was broken. The feed is down right now, but it will probably get back up in time.
- Large Hadron Collider cam: Remember when everyone thought the LHC would open a black hole and destroy the earth? Haha!
Find more cams on the AskReddit thread, and leave your favourites below. Props if you can name one that Reddit hasn't found.