For the question "How important is the transmission of limited bits of information (emails, tweets, content requests)? "
“It is a nice-to-have, but not absolutely necessary.” I would add “…right now.”
I, personally, hope Outernet will stick with the original plan laid out in your original pitch where two-way communication was something to be incorporated later. My thoughts are Outernet has shown they can achieve their major goals - the sats are, after all, transmitting data and you’ve already released products that can receive the data. I understand people want to see Lantern released but I don’t get the accusations of “scam.” If it were a scam there would be no receivers available and no data being transmitted.
My own feelings are stick with your original plan and don’t let us arm-chair quarterbacks pressure you to change things too much and add on stuff. I feel if you’re allowed to stay with your original plan, you will be able to deliver on a form of basic two-way communication, eventually.
I don’t blame you for getting a little off track with Lantern. It’s normal to second guess a design. I don’t mind the new design but, someone on the forums pointed out that, with the loss of the four directional solar panels, the new design may lose the ability to optimally aim the receiver while solar charging. So perhaps you shouldn’t have second guessed your first design???
Either way, as a consumer, I consider the first Lantern only one of perhaps several different iterations, a later one obviously incorporating two-way communication. So I’m not too hung up on design as long as it works. Free data from space where there was none before is nothing to laugh at, after all.
The ability to give people the ability (especially in nations without the proper infrastructure) to access information and education without a recurring bill, alone, is a success. I like that Outernet hasn’t lost focus on the people without access to information and education overseas. In the West it’s very easy for us to get all worked up about design and deadlines when there are people overseas who still only want digital access to the outside world and have been waiting for decades.
Based on past performance, the Outernet team has proven itself. I like that you are asking your clients for feedback but I also think Outernet shouldn’t second guess their plan too much.