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Kinder, Gentler Community

Our online spaces need to be more welcoming—they need to have more hospitality, more civilization, and more heaping helpings of kindness. You might be skeptical that there’s hope—after all, the social networks are most often a crap shoot: opening Twitter, for example, is more like “joining the fray” than feeling connected with warm friends.

Relm is a radical attempt to change what’s possible online. We understand the deep responsibility we have to our generation’s psychological health & well-being, and we are building a platform where human connection can grow, even through the thin wires of the internet that now connect our society.

A friend asked today how Relm is a kinder, gentler community. There are a few things we’re working on:

  • Relm is audio on & video-enabled by default—so there’s a more human side to people. We think this is a necessary (but insufficient) requirement to enable our evolved sense of empathy towards each other as human beings.
  • We’re simulating having a body, like in a video-game world, which enables more forms of communication. For example, sitting down with someone indicates more focused attention, or walking away can indicate boredom (among other things).
  • [future work]: There will be a lobby that allows an anonymous person to enter a relm and get “vetted” before entering. Similar to the role a front desk plays at an office building or theme park.
  • [future work]: We want to create a sense of ritual around entering a community, so it doesn’t feel bureaucratic—like your entry depends upon filling out a form correctly (e.g. “login”, “password”). Instead, we want it to be about making a commitment to people—someone (ideally, a friend) gives you a tour and explains the rules of conduct. (We use cryptographic keys generated in-browser to avoid the login form).
  • [future work]: We’ve thought a lot about autonomy vs. control. In some situations, there are stricter expectations around control—imagine an auditorium with 100 people ready to listen to a presentation, for example. We’d like to simulate capabilities similar to civilization in the real world in these cases–a security officer, for example, that has the ability to escort people out if they’ve crossed a line (but we don’t want this to be “first line” tactics, because sometimes disturbing the peace/heckling is a legit form of expression/free speech).

These are just some ideas, but I hope it outlines some of the work that’s going in to making Relm a kind, gentle place where online communities can find health & happiness together. If you’re interested in joining us, come by our Discord channel and chat!

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