Facebook’s New Product Experimentation (NPE) Team is at it again, and the eighth time could be the charm. E.gg, the NPE Team’s latest project, takes the flavor of the web’s nascent days and combines it with 2020 tools. The platform's “canvases” can be as busy as 2004 Myspace profile, as kitschy as a late 90s Geocities site, or even evoke the more recent stylistic curation of an artsy, 2009 Tumblr blog.
What is E.gg? — Though the specter of Facebook practically sets E.gg up for failure, the product is surprisingly great. E.gg allows users to create canvases by pulling in text and media to make collages. These components can be formatted in a variety of ways in the iOS app, but the canvases can be viewed on the web by anyone. The media “bits” used to create canvases can be reused by others similarly to TikTok sounds.
On the current desktop homepage, you can navigate a few extremes of this functionality, from the aesthetically frenetic to the streamlined. Despite stylistic differences, the overall formatting of canvases is a strong approximation of what a physical zine is like, with some early users even referring to them as zines. Britsworld has a visual Beatles quiz zine that can evidently be remixed by others to show their answers.
If you click on the creator’s profile image, their profile page is essentially a canvas of canvases. Many recommend other profiles to check out, sometimes listing them in a way reminiscent of Myspace’s Top 8. Though you can also discover new users through bits, this method creates a delightful rabbit hole. There are no comments or likes, so the platform is largely centered on creation for creation’s sake.
Could the biggest twist of the 2020 hellscape be Facebook creating a cool place to hang out on the internet?