Sooner or later, televisions and monitors, big ones, will be so cheap that everyone, even the holdouts like me, will have one.
Right now, webcams and monitors are fairly primitive. When engineers solve the problem of framerate at a high-enough definition at a low-enough price, sooner or later (and there’s no reason why it won’t be sooner), monitors will become gigantic and just like televisions in their ubiquity.
Then, some other engineers will co-locate the camera lens with the monitor. The camera will capture a scene from the middle of the image that the person is watching on his big tv. In other words, the life-size image I see of the other person will be looking right at me as I look at it.
One more reason to leave the house will be gone. I will leave it only for food or work or sanity.
As technology stands right now, people with webcams can’t stare at the lens without stopping all other action. And the camera lens contains zero information; it’s inherently dull to look at. To do work or interact, a person with a webcam has to look away from the lens to his monitor. So most of the time, the people he’s interacting with see a profile of his face. That’s not only awkward, it’s disconcerting and a little bizarre.
With a lens embedded in the monitor itself, the normal view of a person on a webcam would be from the front, just like in normal life.
It’s gonna happen, and it’s gonna make the instigator very rich. It won’t be me, because I’m not a capitalist, and I can’t be bothered. My job in these situations is to point at it when it happens and say “SHIT! I could’ve made a million dollars!”
I’m comfortable with that.
update: Carole seems to think she’s heard this idea before. I seem to think she’s taking a page from the Man and is bent on harshing my buzz, for her own inscrutable ends.