The Book of Possibilities is about the wonders of the world we live in. Come explore it with me!
It was a no-brainer that pornographic websites were going to take quick and full advantage of streaming technology.
But, delightfully, another widespread use of webcam technology is available, and can provide a fascinating window on distant wildlife.
For example, National Geographic streams live images 24/7 from the Mashatu Game Reserve in Botswana, Africa. An operator tracks and zooms in on interesting wildlife around a popular watering hole -- you're as likely to see a troupe of elephants as monkey families or various hoofed species.
For a nocturnal treat, try out the feed from The Barn Owl Trust in Devon, England. Lucky for North Americans, the owls are at their most active at dusk or during the nightime hours, which means that you can access great viewing from three pm EST on.
A German travel site on Lake Garda (Italy's largest lake, between Venice and Milan and a favoured tourist destination) offers a host of webcam views so you can watch the sun rise over a gorgeous Italian vista any time you want.
Just as addictive is the Google Maps satellite view. Access it by starting at Google.com and clicking the "Maps" link at the top left-hand corner. Then, type in your own street address, and see just how far you can zoom in on yourself.
While the Google Map satellite view is static and often 1-3 years old (you may be able to tell just by the snow or ground cover), it's strangely mesmerizing. For more features, like the ability to add your own overlays depicting your explorations, you can download Google Earth for free.
How about a bird's eye view of the Great Pyramids of Giza?
You can see some of Google Map's limitations as an up-to-date satellite image provider if you take a peek at "The Palms" of Dubai, enormous man-made island complexes visible from outer space. While you can get a look at them on the map view:
. . . the satellite image hasn't been updated since they were built, and shows just a couple of roads leading into the ocean.
Although you won't be scooping the paparazzi too soon with real time star-tracking, you should check out Google Earth's celestial view of the stars in their Sky service. Awesome. And a nice change from sitcom re-runs.