Almost any computer on sale today will come with an embedded Webcam. But how many of us actually use them?
New services that enable video tweets on Twitter might be the democratizing force that drags Webcam use–and by extension, video chat–into its rightful place in the technological pantheon.
If you’ve never turned on your built-in webcam, who’s to blame you? They produce unflattering images, and most of us aren’t too keen on staring at ourselves even in the best of lighting. Even though popular chat apps like Google Talk and Apple’s iChat offer video chatting built-in, I don’t know anyone who uses these tools regularly; they’re alternately awkward and surreal. Forward-facing cameras on mobile phones haven’t caught on yet for what I suspect are the same reasons.
Vidly may help change all that. It’s a high-def video sharing service that works with Twitter, allowing users to post short clips instead of textual tweets. Hot on the heels of its video-sharing iPhone app, the company is launching first with Twitter support, with planned support for Facebook, YouTube, and MySpace coming later. (As VentureBeat points out, the National Geographic tweet-stream is a good example of how the service works.)
Other services have been at this for a while, among them Radar.net, which lets users record video status updates and repost them to Twitter and other social networks. Should there become a critical mass of users who start linking Twitter with video, we might all come around to video-based communications. But perhaps not until laptops start including vanity lights.