Waste and peer-to-peer

Source: Garbologie

It is one of the pleasures of Twitter to have a constellation of different ideas emerge, combine with your existing framework of knowledge and form new concepts. And so it is with Michel Bauwens’ writing on peer-to-peer (tweeting at @mbauwens)

In the waste management context, Michel’s description of the failings of information and production hoarded is spot on. Waste is the most obvious symptom of a failed mode of production.

Waste is not intrinsically waste. It is only waste because the holder has no value for it. In a different context the waste is a resource.

The difference between the two? An inability to connect the waste context to the resource context. This inability to connect is driven by a lack of information. That might be a lack of information where a local user of the waste is not aware that the waste exists. Or a potential business cannot be unveiled because nobody has the aggregated information to piece it all together. Or maybe as stupid as the timing of a byproduct doesn’t match when it is needed, for no better reason than the parties didn’t know. And so it goes to waste.

Think about it. Waste is generally managed by waste companies. They do not usually share their daae for fear that competitors might step in. This is not to say that they don’t try to direct waste to where it can be used as a resource. But the problem is structural. It is endemic in the way business is done. They cannot anticipate all of the solutions to the problem.

Government tries to fix this by attempting a wholesale aggregation of all of the data around. So there are innumerable studies presenting the quantity of this or that waste, but it is never enough. In fact, it probably sets the industry back.

Why? Well, for one, the data is never provided in sufficient detail to enable any sort of real understanding of what is happening. It is presented in a manner that presupposes a certain type of infrastructure-bound solution. Having data creates an impression that government should then try for a waste infrastructure plan. And the whole exercise reinforces the structure where data is a resource to be monopolised.

Imagine an alternative where it is in the interests of the data holder to share it. I don’t know why just yet, b