Competitive Waste

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Competitive waste is the cost of competing as opposed to collaborating. Competitive waste is central to many institutions of humanity, because the economy is founded on a Scarcity Mindset. Scarcity is not a natural principle and cannot be derived from first principles. True scarcity does not apply to Earth, which is nowhere near 1 on the Kardashev Scale. Only Artificial Scarcity exists within the minds of people.

Prior to the information age, it may have been difficult to negotiate Collaborative Waste - namely the cost involved with coordinating large numbers of people. Howevery, these barriers no longer apply in the digital age, as the tools for managing knowledge and productivity on a large scale are available. Thus, anyone with a basic level of Collaborative Literacy can tap these tools for unleashing the productivity of distributed collaboration.

Broad Examples

Examples of competitive waste are:

  1. The Last Mile of Open/Libre - this is the concept that work is published on an ongoing basis, not when the product ships. The former is accepted by the OSHWA Definition. The typical reason given for not doing this is that competitors can undermine your work. OSE does not believe this in theory, and is working on infrastructure that makes it feasible in practice - because temporary non-disclosure can still constitute competitive waste, and puts a definite though subtle limit on the maturation of humanity towards open collaboration. OSE can facilitate this point by providing an example. A good example of Last Mile noncompliance is the seminal eco-computer project, EOMA68, which prides itself on its high level of open/libre adherence.
  2. Patents - patents reveal conceptual workings, and are used to claim a piece of intellectual property, with sanctions delivered to anyone who tries to replicate the technology. No good for collaborative innovation.
  3. Black box design of goods and services - completely hidden, obscure, or inaccessible inner workings, voiding warranties if opened. The advantage is turnkey service by manufacturer. The disadvantage is added cost to the user, and lack of support when the item is discontinued or when the manufacturer goes out of business.
  4. Proprietary development and trade secrets. Standard product development where many independent agents make variations of the same product, as opposed to collaborating to increase the overall quality of the product. Working to be the best as opposed to uplifting everyone. This is also known as reinventing the wheel - the natural human tendency to become possessive of information, claiming it as their own invention - as opposed to standing on the shoulders of giants.
  5. Protectionism
  6. Design for obsolescence - this is the opposite of Lifetime Design. In lifetime design, the user has the option to use a device or artefact for as long as they choose - not because of premature failure-by-design, lack of access to parts, or lack of documentation that allows for repair. In lifetime design - modularity, transparency of design, simplicity of designu, design-for-repair, design-for-disassembly, use of COTS parts - the user decides the useful life of an artefact - with an automatic 10x increase in value over the black box design.
  7. Advertising
  8. Military establishment. Transition of the military to a central mission of developing industrial productivity on a small scale is a prerequisite to global peace. Microfactories need to be brought in worldwide, and the arms should ride in the back of the bus.
  9. Many regulations in industry. This needs to be discussed specifically. Examples below. The general intent of regulation is positive (keeping everyone safe and happy), but the practical outcome is a substitute for individual responsibility, which always has some negative consequences - from mushrooming bureaucracy, opportunity cost of regulation vs innovation, and blanket restrictions that are detrimental to people who have the required responsibility.
  10. Long food miles
  11. Low quality education - when teachers and students are alienated from meaningful learning because of mis-directed requirements that lead towards the mainstream economy. This is naturally alienating - and is considered part of competitive waste because the mainstream economy is founded on largely unhealthy competition. Education is rarely about empowering the individual, but instead - about making people fit into a pathological system.
  12. Low cost, unsupported foreign goods - such as Chinese products, which are cheap to acquire but may hold little value over time if they break. This is about competing for markets. Open source, supported designs can yield more service and lifetime design, as they can be fixed and modified. This means they do. Otherwise end up in landfills, which is good for me environment.
  13. Redistributive, rather than Distributive Economy

Research Papers

  • Kurt Rothschild - [1]


The Open Source Philosophy short discusses how competitive waste plays a part in our economy, and how open source product development is a solution.

Open Source Philosophy. from Open Source Ecology on Vimeo.

Specific Examples

Specific Examples lead us to insight for correcting competitive Waste in various disciplines and sectors. These are documented here to suggest possible remedies - upon which Movement Entrepreneurs can act to make a better world. Waste is defined as anything that takes one's time away from more meaningful endeavors, as guided by Self-determination

  1. Competitive Waste in Construction