I am the COO/Editor of Outernet. Our signal is currently live on 3 satellites covering North America, Europe, Middle East, and Africa. We broadcast the best content from the web for free. We do this because we believe every human deserves free access to essential information.

I just published the guidelines for what content we broadcast, which you can read about here (7 min read):https://medium.com/outernet-blog/what-outernet-broadcasts-and-why-e7c4672a47b

We currently have a crowdfunding campaign live that tipped in its first 5 days. You can learn more about Outernet as well as get a receiver via that campaign: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/lantern-one-device-free-data-from-space-forever

Here are two pieces of proof that I am who I say I am. https://twitter.com/ThaneRichard/status/547091458327859202 https://twitter.com/OuternetForAll/status/545989126907256832

You can see what I look like in Outernet's video (skip to 2:12): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ammanyLM_ko

Thanks for your questions! I'm signing off.

Comments: 78 • Responses: 21  • Date: 

magnum_bottle11 karma

Are you really the only say/vote on what does or does not get broadcasted? What is stopping you from broadcasting things only you support?

I realize this question comes off as a little mean, but i didn't know how to phrase it to be nicer.

thaneofcawddor10 karma

Not mean at all. We hear this concern a lot, but you have to remember that in every other broadcast medium there is editorial oversight because of limited bandwidth (whether airtime or column inches). The reason is quality - we want to make sure that the Core Archive and other curated material is the best. We plan to be very transparent in our decision making process and leaving much of the content selection to our community.

Biteitliketysen10 karma

Are you going to try to get the people of North Korea this service?

thaneofcawddor9 karma

We think every human on Earth has the right to free, uncensored information, so yes.

EltonJuan5 karma


thaneofcawddor7 karma

Ironically, it's the US that has effectively censored that. If the studio is interested, we would certainly consider it, though the bandwidth consumption would be quite large.

Biteitliketysen3 karma

Ok so do you have any plans at all on how to get this technology into their country or is this one of those " Yeah they should be able to use our technology but we don't really plan on giving it to them" situations.

thaneofcawddor9 karma

We currently do not broadcast in Asia, so that would be the first step. That will happen as we grow. Specifically regarding NK, I can tell you that we are exploring means to distribute hardware. However, the risk for a user in that country is extremely high. We hope to see a situation there (and many places) where receivers are made locally rather than bought from us. We sell receivers now as a revenue stream and to seed the market, but early on we decided to make the system open (not require Outernet hardware or any purchase from us). That is the only way to achieve maximum global reception of info.

FaustClarke8 karma

How do you feel about Elon Musks plan to launch a network of internet satellites?

thaneofcawddor6 karma

The same way we feel about Internet.org and Google Loon: go for it! We would love to see those projects succeed because they would give more people free ways to request content from Outernet. There will always be a place for Outernet in providing free, uncensored information to everyone.

ImogenM7 karma

Love the idea and have bought two Lanterns (one to keep, one to donate). But I'm a bit stupid so I have two questions: 1. How will the donation work? 2. Can you tell me in layman's terms why the data allowance is so low? And how we can increase it? Hmm, that's 3 questions.

thaneofcawddor5 karma

Thank you for your support! 1. The exact process of this is yet to be determined. We will keep backers like you in the loop as we iron this out further. 2. This has to be with the size of Lantern's antennae and the frequency at which we broadcast. You can plug a dish into your Lantern to boost the speed up to 200 MB/day (currently, tested up to 25 Mbps). 3. We can deploy more satellites in space and/or rent additional capacity from existing sat operators. We plan to do both as Outernet grows.

iEyepawd5 karma

  1. Would you guys cache porn if enough people vote on it? (serious question)

  2. Could someone file a DMCA take down that would effect the Outernet?

thaneofcawddor15 karma

The Avenue Q song specifically says "Internet," not Outernet, so no need to be redundant. In all seriousness, we would not broadcast porn despite the demand. Voting is a very useful and important tool, but there are overarching guidelines within which that system works. I highly voted death threat or call for organized violence would similarly be rejected. Any piece of content must fulfill one of Outernet's Content Goals. The alienation of users that would occur from broadcasting something like porn would not be worth it - people would stop coming in the entire library simply because we carry a few objectionable things. This may happen with other controversial material, but I think we can agree that porn is not the material worth digging in over. However, things like the Kama Sutra and sexual education material would be eligible for broadcast.

icameforthecookies4 karma

What would I need to have view your content?

thaneofcawddor5 karma

A receiver that you can either build on your own (https://www.outernet.is/en/receive) or purchase from us, currently via our IndieGoGo campaign but with more to come soon. That receiver stores the content we broadcast and works as a Wi-Fi hotspot, allowing you to view the stored content in any browser. It will also eventually be possible to build a receiver into low cost smartphones and tablets, meaning that someone could use that device without a data plan. It could also be made to optimize data usage: using Outernet content for free and only using paid data for what Outernet is missing.

two_off4 karma

What kinds of backlash have you received from governments or groups opposed to what you're doing?

thaneofcawddor7 karma

So far we have received nothing but support from governments for providing a service that they recognize is of real value to their citizens. We expect backlash eventually, but we are operating within the law.

KonoTyran3 karma

do you plan on making the lantern, or can it currently, capable of receiving the full data stream by plugging in a satellite receiver? if so is this an easy "plug and play" solution or does/will it require software,or other, changes to make it compatible?

syedkarim6 karma

We don't talk about it much (if at all), but Lantern actually doubles as a DVB-S receiver, so the only thing you need is an external antenna/dish to receive free-to-air channels. Of course, you'll also need to add some software, but there are some solid open source options available.

thaneofcawddor5 karma

Btw, /u/syedkarim is Outernet CEO Syed Karim. So he's obviously qualified to answer as well.

nojihad3 karma

This looks very interesting. Have you started broadcasting already? What kind of content do you serve? How do you feel about ads?

thaneofcawddor3 karma

See my opening paragraph and linked Medium piece to answer your questions. Re: ads, we do not support them currently though we will in the future. The three main things we are considering with ads, because they don't necessarily fulfill a content goal, are exclusion (ads taking up bandwidth that would have otherwise gone to content), intrusion (a user would have to download the ad), and user experience (making sure it doesn't interfere). You can look at our broadcast guidelines for more details: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1GpPo1YCIrgJJrY3SJK8KRJhSdr_jJidTxw4yEsf6m7k/edit?usp=sharing

Apfelattack_2 karma

When do you will publish a video or blog post about the new lantern?

Ps: I'm not the only one who has to add the shipment costs, how and when can I/We pay them?

thaneofcawddor1 karma

We will give an opportunity to pay shipping costs very soon. Don't worry, you're not alone ;) Thanks for following up and stay tuned for the update.

whosawhatzit1 karma

What is your business plan? Do you expect the cost of the lanterns to cover the cost of operating streaming services from satellites? Do you envision your service to always remain free or are you looking at a tiered service structure?

thaneofcawddor1 karma

Great question. The creation of Lanterns (and Pillars, our High Speed receiver designed for a school or library type application) is a good revenue source but I think about those as being like the swag (albeit really awesome, extremely useful swag) a band sells at the concert. The main focus of the band is the music, or in our case the signal and information we broadcast. On that side, sponsored content and ads will be our main sources of revenue. The broadcast service will always be free. As we explore a two-way service, a tiered premium model may come into play.

qwerty20991 karma

Will the current generation of lantern be able to be used for the possible two-way service or would we need all new gear?

thaneofcawddor1 karma

You would need new equipment. We have deliberately made Lantern a receive-only device so that encounters as few regulatory hurdles around the world.

LordJellyfish1 karma

What's the worst/best thing you've ever reviewed?

thaneofcawddor2 karma

Some of the most intriguing things I have seen are Open Source Ecology's plans for farm equipment, which is such a tangible resource for so many. The Long Now Foundation's Rosetta Project was a user suggestion that I think has real utility for creating a basic phrasebook in every language. I also really like Open Library's idea for an entry on every book. For worst, things like porn are childish submissions that don't qualify as "worst." Annoying maybe. Worst are docs like the UN's recent climate report or revelations on gross abuses of power or atrocities taking place where there is little that an average person can do. They are the worst because the amount of attention they get is disproportionate with the attention they deserve. Or those who should be reading them or seeing them cannot. We broadcast those things - being horrible does not disqualify content from Outernet.

themullet1 karma

Absolutely love it and ordered one a few weeks back. Few questions:

Where can we submit site ideas for consideration?

Do you guys need help / volunteers for sorting out what to broadcast?

Good work

thaneofcawddor1 karma

Thanks! You can submit ideas on this form: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1J0aNd-m0mwM_NZGlpYxJsOfUX2dOJ5ewzlm21PxXUYo/viewform

You may suggest anything there, not just nationally curated content. For your second question, we will be relying heavily on volunteers to help sort content and respond to user content requests. Since you backed our IGG campaign, you'll be receiving updates on this as we roll out more user functionality.

Neshgaddal1 karma

Hi Thane, thanks for doing this.

I have two questions for you:

  1. There are a number of lets say more esoteric projects with highish vote counts on the whiteboard. At least from the submitters and voters perspecive, they fulfill the requirements outlined in your guidelines, although some might disagree. How do you decide what gets broadcast if the truthfulness is not clear cut and open to debate?

  2. The submitted ideas and votes clearly show that a lot of people do not understand that outernet is one directional, with a limited amount of bandwith and possible content. Why do think this misconception is so common and should the limitations be more emphasized?


thaneofcawddor1 karma

  1. Give me some examples of the esoteric projects you're referring to and I can give you a better answer. When it comes to truthfulness, we can use the Bible as an example. An atheist will dispute the truth of that document, however it fulfills other content goals of Outernet and is something you could expect to find in a library. We would broadcast it and we do (in our Core Archive, along with most other major religious texts).

  2. This is an ongoing struggle for many reasons. Our receivers use Wi-Fi, which has become synonymous with Internet. We are broadcasting web content and it can be hard to imagine that being unidirectional. We can probably do an even better job of explaining how Outernet works and will continue to do so. That being said, I don't think an overemphasis on what we CAN'T do is as important as talking about all the things that we CAN do and what Outernet can enable around the world.

Qevla1 karma

Isn't that a lot of power for one person to hold?

thaneofcawddor1 karma

Any decision I make has to be defendable both internally to Outernet and externally to the public. The former check is inherent in any role, but we have been deliberate about having the latter as well to assuage the concern that your question gets at. By being transparent about the decisions we make editorially and why we make them, I hope we can be viewed the same as any other editorial body. Indeed, more so, since the editorial decision-making of major newspapers, radio, and TV do not happen so publicly or invite so much participation from users.

computermistake1 karma

The promo video showed a small kid using the lantern in the backseat of a car, will the lantern also provide outernet on airplanes (fast moving objects)?

thaneofcawddor2 karma

My specialty is not the radio technology, though I would imagine that the metal body of a jet would interfere with the signal. Even if service was spotty in such scenarios, you would still be able to access content that is already stored on your Lantern.

tr0picana1 karma

How hackable is the Lantern? Will you release and SDK or API exposing its internals?

thaneofcawddor1 karma

You can see most of our work here: github.com/Outernet-Project. Since everyone receives the same signal, I don't see a compelling reason to hack a Lantern.

brownboy130 karma

Can you please mention this AMA on either your site, your youtube channel or the indiegogo campaign? There's no way to be sure you're who you say you are otherwise.

thaneofcawddor3 karma

I just added it to YouTube and we have Tweeted, FB'd, and G+'d it. I also sent out an update on the IndieGoGo campaign.