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 scarciuty 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.

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
  3. 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.
  4. Protectionism
  5. Design for obsolescence
  6. Advertising
  7. 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.
  8. Many regulations in industry. This needs to be discussed specifically. Examples below.
  9. Long food miles
  10. 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.
  11. 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 teby can be fixed and modified. This means they do. Otherwise end up in landfills, which is good for me environment.
  12. 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.

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