Facebook NPE Team Goes Back to ‘the Early Interwebz’ with E.gg

The experimental iOS app lets users add images, GIFs and text to shareable canvases

E.gg was inspired by the early days of the Internet
Facebook NPE Team

Facebook NPE Team director of product management Jason Toff was an interesting choice to introduce its newest experimental application, E.gg, given his strong video background.

Toff unveiled iOS app E.gg in a series of tweets, calling it “an experimental new platform for weird and wonderful expressions of who you are and what you love.”

A Facebook spokesperson confirmed the test, saying, “This is a small, early experiment by the NPE Team. It’s available to people who want to help us test it via the waitlist.”

E.gg is not a video app, although examples shared in Toff’s tweets and on the app’s about page featured many examples of “old-school” internet video and other moving parts.

Toff tweeted, “E.gg lets you create and share ‘canvases’—free form, collage-y pages with whatever you want on them. E.gg was inspired by the raw and exploratory spirit of the early Interwebz. We stopped short of auto-playing MIDIs (for now), but the feeling should be familiar.”

Facebook NPE Team

The about page mentioned the early days of the web, as well: “We started working on E.gg after a few of us found ourselves missing a certain raw and exploratory spirit that was so emblematic of ‘The Early Internet.’ Sure, it was clumsy to use—dangerous at times, even—but in that awkward mess was a weird and enlivening bazaar of manically-blinking GIFs, passionate guestbook entries and personal webpages made by people who cared deeply about a niche interest of theirs and wanted simply to carve out their own digital space.”

According to the E.gg about page, content such as images, GIFs and text can be freely positioned and sized within canvases, and the NPE Team noted, “To encourage experimental content, we left out like counts and comments.”

While canvasses are created within the E.gg app, they can be viewed and shared across the web via personalized e.gg URLs, with no logins or downloads required.

E.gg refers to content elements (images, GIFs, text) as bits, saying that those bits can be used and reused across multiple canvases, and users will be able to discover new canvases and other creators by following bits they like.

Facebook NPE Team

According to the NPE Team, the guiding principles behind E.gg are:

  • Embrace the exploratory and unpolished.
  • Yield to self-expression and the individual.
  • Encourage positive, deliberate interactions.
  • Creativity as its own solitary reward.

The NPE Team wrote, “Our hope is that over time, E.gg will grow ever-closer to realizing these ideals and, in that process, carve out a small pocket in which that raw and wondrous ethos of the early internet might again find itself a bit of breathing room.”

Facebook NPE Team

Toff joined the NPE Team—NPE stands for New Product Experimentation—last July from Google, where he returned January 2016 to become a partner in its Area 120 in-house incubator.

Going further back, he served as group product manager for Vine, Twitter’s now-defunct video app, following stints as Vine’s general manager and head of product. Overall, he was with Vine from 2014 until leaving for Google.

And prior to Vine, Toff was the product lead for YouTube at Google from 2011 through 2014.

The app’s about page concluded with, “We acknowledge that a lot of this seems like misplaced nostalgia, and maybe it totally is, but it’s important to note that we are not looking to create a 90s-throwback platform. We built E.gg to enable all sorts of content/visual styles (the rougher the better!)—the 90s infomercial/webpage style just happened to be, like, really fun so we ran with it for this page. That is all.”

Facebook NPE Team

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