Relm: A Brief Introduction

Describing itself as “a tiny metaverse for life coaches and other transformation facilitators”, Relm (sic; there’s no “a”) is a browser-based virtual world for support groups, team meetings, and life coaches. Here’s a twenty-second teaser:

Here’s a longer, one-minute video, showing you some of the avatar customization options:

Relm’s avatars are disconcertingly blank-faced, but you can use your computer’s webcam to provide a face for other avatars to see:

Duane Johnson, the Canadian CEO and co-founder of Relm, tells me that it is possible to do collaborative editing of the worlds you create in Relm (called “relms”). In relms where you have edit rights, just hit Tab to pull up a menu on the left-hand-side of your screen:

You can also edit objects in Relm in a similar way to the prim-editing tools in Second Life, such as this vase:

As an example use case, an association of non-profit organizations in Lyon, France called UniVers-K uses Relm to assist cancer patients and their families by meeting with coaches, planning events together, and organizing fundraisers.

One thing I found heartwarming about the small team building Relm is that, even at this early stage of development, they have posted an Online Social Universe Manifesto:

Human beings are fundamentally social creatures. But the world wide web was not designed to meet our social needs. When we look around at the networks we’ve created online, we see a travesty of real connection with each other—sometimes an emotional wasteland filled with failed efforts to see and to be seen, to be with and to belong.

Today, we have Facebook “friends”, Instagram influencers, LinkedIn connections, and Twitter mobs. In addition, we see more depression, anxiety, and loneliness in our society than ever before.

But if we can re-imagine the web the way it should be—not as an inter-linked store of hypertext documents, but as a place to work together and build community together—why not fashion for ourselves an online universe that is pro-social and social-first?

We evolved in a spatial world, and we thrive in 3 dimensions. Video games and MMO worlds have led the way in showing us how to build trust and culture online—and we should take their lessons seriously enough to integrate the experience they offer in fields as far away as remote teamwork and business meetings.

Our surroundings tell us about ourselves, and hold us in relationship to one another. As we work, create, and collaborate together, we need a virtual world in which to do it—not necessarily because it’s efficient, but because it’s the most human way we know to be online together.

We believe that the architecture of the web experience needs to be re-designed for online teams and communities. A healthy online universe for human beings prioritizes:

• Belonging over status updates
• Visual and auditory communication over textual communication
• Real-time interactions over asynchronous requests/responses
• Rootedness in community over fast network growth
• Hospitality over bureaucracy (e.g. log-in forms)
• Opportunity for human connection (and serendipity) over efficiency
• Socially meaningful surroundings over missing context or sterile environments
• Representing ourselves as avatars over having little to no representation of “me”
• Fun throughout!

The next version of the web experience should be a social universe—a place where we can see, be seen, and belong—just like our ancestors’ communities, but online.

An online friend shared this image taken from their blog, telling me, “They have a really nice ethos,” and I must agree! In the current metaverse season, which has so many blockchain, crypto, and NFT-based platforms operating on a purely mercantile basis, these people certainly have their hearts in the right place. Relm is intended to be, first and foremost, a human (and humane) place for people to meet.

If you are intrigued and want to learn more about Relm, you can check out their website, read their blog, check out their YouTube channel, or join their Discord server. And, of course, I will add Relm to my ever-expanding, comprehensive list of social VR, virtual worlds, and metaverse platforms.