Web Relic Showcase: Eric Conveys an Emotion

The Netstorian discusses Eric Conveys an Emotion (1998-2008)

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Screenshot of Eric Conveys an Emotion
Screenshot of “Realizing that Your Hair Just Caught on Fire” emotion page from Eric Conveys an Emotion

Name: Eric Conveys an Emotion
URL: http://www.emotioneric.com/
Year created: 1998
Year abandoned: 2008

Before social media, websites connected with their audiences through blog comments, guestbooks, and e-mails. The extent of these methods often resulted in FAQ and “Reader Mail” sections and not much more in terms of additional site content. A smaller number of personal sites, however, relied heavily on audience interaction to assist in the site’s content. In this instance, Eric Conveys an Emotion is a successful example.

The Site

Eric Conveys an Emotion was a website created “out of boredom” by Eric Wu in 1998. The then-University of Florida student came up with a simple concept: pictures of himself mimicking a specific emotion. As the site attracted more users, he began receiving requests, which eventually made up a long waiting list of pending emotions to tackle.

In 2003 when the site was at the height of its popularity, Eric began posting new emotions weekly. Posts ranged from simple emotions like “happiness” to specific emotions like “wondering if your ears are too big for your head”. With nearly 300 images and a long “pending requests” list, the simple-yet-unique concept saw success in user interaction. The site’s content eventually expanded beyond just pictures of Eric, and began offering merchandise, adventure games, and a discussion forum.

Since its abandonment, the Request, Shirts, and Guestbook sections are all down, but the rest of the site remains accessible.

The majority of personal websites don’t reach beyond their humble corners of the internet, but Eric’s concept appealed to a mass audience. By May 2000, ECAE was receiving around 100 requests and 1000 hits per day. The site gained enough popularity to be nominated for a Webby in 2003 and see international publicity in magazines, newspapers, television, radio and of course other places on the Web. Eric also eventually saw collaborations with other Web creators like The Brothers Chaps of Homestar Runner.

The Mall Adventure Game on Eric Conveys an Emotion
Screenshot of the introduction page for “The Mall” adventure game

Where is Eric now?

The most recent emotion was posted in 2004 while the latest site update was made in 2008. Just missing the beginning of a post-Myspace social media revolution, Eric decided against taking advantage of using up-and-coming social media sites to continue his work. In a 2012 interview with Matt Stempeck of MIT Centre for Civic Media, Eric said he quit after it “stopped being fun”, but also acknowledged that the concept would likely do well on today’s Web. With that said, it appears as Eric has no plans to modernize ECAE.

The same MIT interview mentions that after working at Yahoo! for six years, Eric went on to become the general manager of an ice cream shop in Brooklyn, NY. He also began work on an educational project which helps children with autism and Asperger’s understand emotions through a photo database.

Eric does have a public Twitter profile, but the most recent post is from July 2016, with sparse preceding updates.

In the current social media era where novelty accounts are everywhere, Eric Conveys an Emotion was ahead of its time in attracting a loyal and interactive audience. If anything, it paved the way for many novelty pages for years to come. A concept such as this would have likely gone over just as well today through perhaps a Twitter or Tumblr account. The site saw 10 promising years through Web 1.0 and Web 2.0, so one can only imagine what could have been for Web 3.0.

What’s your favourite Emotion Eric post? Share your story in the comments.

Have a suggestion for a future post? Have a net memory of your own that you’d like to share? Send an e-mail to thenetstorian@gmail.com.

Author: The Netstorian

Internet culture enthusiast and creator of The Netstorian.

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