A Window on the World

view through a stone window opening to a bay and a medieval-looking town on a hill

Do you have suppressed wanderlust? I sure do. I’m itching to travel, even to just go on a road trip for a few days, something Derek and I love to do. But to paraphrase Bob Dylan, the times they have a-changed. It will be a good long while before that travel itch can get properly scratched.

The other day, I watched a breeze blow items on a clothesline in a back yard in the Netherlands. Then, I checked out some apartment buildings in Russia. After that, I looked out over a Brooklyn park while someone did dishes noisily in the background.

The website is called WindowSwap and it literally gives you a window on another part of the world. It’s incredibly calming and weirdly fascinating. Its founders told CBC radio they are as perplexed and delighted as anyone about its popularity. Some people keep it on their desktop to watch here and there while they work or study. Others are part of a group that looks only for dogs; they keep track of the breeds they see. I find visiting it a moment of zen.

Every week, they upload more than 100 ten-minute submissions of window views, complete with sound. About 190 countries have been represented. There doesn’t have to be anything special about the view. They’ve proven that no matter how mundane it might seem to you, someone will find it fascinating. I’ve found my wanderlust is partly satisfied by these videos. And it’s a little bit voyeuristic, too.

Anyone can submit a video through the site. I’m thinking that a view of a harvested soy bean field with a lonely country road beyond it might pique someone’s interest. Maybe a deer will wander into the frame or maybe it won’t. I’m planning to experiment with my camera and see if I can do justice to the serenity of the view out my window. The site receives thousands of submissions and they’ll send you an email when your goes live.

I’d make a terrible futurist. I never would have imagined that looking out someone’s window would be this fascinating unless they lived on the Cote D’Azur. Maybe I simply have too much time on my hands. And therein lies the secret to this site’s success in a pandemic-affected, travel-hungry world.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *