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   » » Wiki: E-card
Tag Wiki 'E-card'.

E-card is an electronic or , with the primary difference being that it is created using instead of paper or other traditional materials. E-cards are made available in many different ways, usually on various sites. They can be sent to a recipient virtually, usually via or an instant messaging service.

Since e-cards are "content", they are highly editable, allowing them to be extensively personalized by the sender. They are also capable of presenting animated gifs or videos.

Typically a catalog of E-cards is made available on a publisher's website. After selecting a card, the sender can personalize it to various degrees by adding a message, photo, or video. Finally, the sender specifies the recipient's e-mail address and the website delivers an e-mail message to the recipient on behalf of the sender.

Technological evolution
Since its conception in 1994 by , the technology behind the E-Card has changed significantly. One technical aspect that has remained mostly constant is the delivery mechanism: the e-mail received by the recipient contains not the E-card itself, but an individually coded link back to the publisher's website that displays the sender's card.

Postcards and greeting cards
Like their paper counterparts, "postcards" use visual art (static or animated images or video) and provide a space for a personal note to be added. These were the first type of E-cards in use. Like their paper counterparts, cyber "greeting cards" provide a greeting along with visual art. Variations range from E-cards with fixed greetings like a paper card to selectable greetings (from drop-down lists or other selection options) to changeable suggested greetings.

Flash animation
This type of E-card is based on two-dimensional vector animation controlled with a scripting language. The format is proprietary to Adobe; however, widespread usage of Adobe's software prior to its discontinuation allowed this type of card to be easily viewed on most computers. The recipient would see a short animation, usually 15–30 seconds in duration. These animations often had a cartoonish style due to the nature of the content, though some Flash creations can be quite sophisticated and realistic. A soundtrack which may contain speech or music could accompany the animation.

Flash-animated greeting cards also could include interactivity, for example, asking the viewer to choose a picture to animate, but most Flash E-cards were designed to convey the sentiment of the sender through simple observation.

Flash-animated cards were offered by almost all major E-card publishers and were consequently the most common format used. When Flash stopped being supported by Adobe on December 31, 2020, companies producing E-cards had to adopt more modern ways to display files.

Video E-cards
"Video E-cards" use a combination of personalized text, photos, and video to convey the message to the recipient. A number of such services exist such as Rattlebox where the user selects and customizes text on a prerecorded video, and where a user with a web camera records their video to send or through platforms such as Guestory.

Mobile E-cards
With the advance in mobile technologies, Multimedia Messaging Services (MMS), essentially picture SMS, became more and more popular. E-cards can now be sent to mobile devices and phones. Mobile E-cards or 'MCards' as they are more commonly known are then offered by different mobile content providers and carriers. Similar to E-cards, MCards can contain multiple pictures, music, and text messages. Also, MCards are considered the cards sent via one or another mobile application.

One of the first companies that created MCards is a Dutch Company called Mgreetings (established in 2003). MCards can be sent from a PC in a similar way as sending E-cards. Users can go to a website online, select a card enter the recipient's mobile number, and that card will be sent to the recipient's mobile phone as an MMS.

The metaphor was employed early in the life of the World Wide Web. The first postcard site, The Electric Postcard was created in late 1994 by at the MIT Media Lab. It started slowly: 10-20 cards a day were sent in the first weeks, 1000-2000 a day over the first summer, and then it gained momentum rapidly. During the 1995-96 Christmas season, there were days when over 19,000 cards were sent; by late spring of 1996 over 1.7 million cards had been sent in total. The source code for this service was made publicly available, with the stipulation that users share improvements with each other. The Electric Postcard won numerous awards, including a 1995 GNN Best of the Net award. GNN 2nd annual best of the net, Partial list of references to The Electric Postcard

MIT's postcards remained the dominant and the only documented E-card service until the late fall of 1995. In Nov 1995, Registry Data | Network Solutions Awesome Cyber Cards and also then known as (located at until Oct 2010, now moved), began developing the Internet greeting card, a digital Internet card including a fixed or suggested greeting as well as an image.

When the began capturing websites across the Internet in the fall of 1996, it created a reservoir of information about E-card development by preserving Internet history from that time and from earlier time-marked Internet pages captured at that time. The Awesome Cards web pages, captured on Nov 10, 1996, and available at the demonstrate the development of the cyber greeting card through the year 1996 as one drills down through its card collections. Specifically, the holiday collections from earlier that same year give a virtual time-stamp, of greeting card development, starting with Valentines with fixed or semi-fixed greetings in February 1996 and progressing through greeting cards with changeable suggested greetings by the Thanksgiving collection.

By mid-1996, a number of sites had developed E-cards. By mid-October 1996, directly emailable greeting cards and postcards ("Email Express") were developed and introduced by Awesome Cards, based on new capabilities introduced in the Netscape 3.0 browser. This is the first time the E-card itself could be emailed directly by the card sender to the recipient rather than having an announcement sent with a link to the card's location at the E-card site. E-cards Sent Directly Within Email Message, Email Express

Between Sep 1996 and Thanksgiving 1997, BlueMtn Ecards, BlueMtn 1st Archive a paper greeting card company named Blue Mountain developed E-cards on its website. Blue Mountain grew quickly by allowing visitors to create greetings for others to use. Blue Mountain further expanded when Microsoft promoted its service on its free Hotmail service. This affiliation ceased and Blue Mountain sued Microsoft in Nov 1998 for putting email card announcements from it and other E-card companies in the junk folder of its Hotmail users.

By 1999, major capital was starting to flow into the Internet, beginning the dotcom boom. Of the E-card sites, Blue Mountain Arts was noteworthy in this period for its sale in October 1999 to Excite@Home for (which represents a price of per unique monthly user). The transaction has been referenced by and Business 2.0 as evidence of the . On September 13, 2001, three weeks before filing for bankruptcy on October 1, 2001, Excite@Home sold to American Greetings for , or per unique monthly user. The website remains a large website, primarily focused on E-cards. In June 2008, purchased the free E-card site and added it to their own greeting card site, which made them one of the largest E-card sites in the world.

Several non-profit organizations offer free E-cards as a way of having a supporter introduce the organization to another individual. In 2006, SOS Children's Villages - USA began offering free E-cards for many occasions such as birthdays, thank yous, and Mother's Day.

According to data provided by , searches for e-cards have declined to less than 1% of their past levels, with interest declining since record-keeping began in 2004.

Sending an E-card to a given recipient invariably involves giving that recipient's email address to the E-card service – a third party. As with other third-party email services (such as mailing-list companies), the operator has the chance to misuse this address. One example of misuse is if the E-card service sends advertisements to the recipient's address. Under anti-spam rules used by major ISPs, such advertisements would be spam, since the recipient never asked ("opted in") to receive them.

Data privacy laws may prohibit a business from disclosing names, email addresses, or other personal information about customers to a third party.

In late June 2007 a spate of emails with the subject line "You've received a postcard from a family member!" and other similar subjects, were seen making their way across the internet. Most of these emails contained links to malicious websites where was used to exploit the browser in order to compromise a system or contained a link to a file masquerading as an E-card.

See also

External links
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