Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Competition vs Cooperation

Interesting comment from Anonymous above. I do agree in part with their comments. Cooperation is a key trait in the development and evolution of the human body of knowledge. However, I would also have to point out that the competition “clause” still applies in the two examples given. The difference is in the level of organisation.

Rather than two individuals competing, in these cases it was two countries or groups of countries. Without the competing pressure of war or national pride, the governments would not have been motivated to remove the barriers between the small units (such as individuals or companies).

Is cooperation a uniquely human trait? There are plenty of examples in nature of non-human, and even non-simian cooperation. For example wolves raising alpha couple’s pups. Or go lower in the level of complexity and look at colonial organisms such a Man O’Wars. Likewise there are plenty of examples of intra-species competition.

On a software level cooperation is necessary and beneficial even in a competitive model. If I want to write/market/sell a killer product I can’t do that on my own. Not only would I need help in writing the product (otherwise it would take too long) but I would also benefit from working with marketing and sales to distribute my product.

My post is not intended to suggest that competition is the only way. I firmly believe that cooperation through standards and patterns provides a more mature model of product development that benefits not only the end customers, but also the development companies. On the parameters of the product, standards are vital in allowing it to cooperate in an integrated environment.

I do, however, firmly believe that competition between companies in a similar space ultimately benefits the end user through driving innovation and quality. Competition does not need to be, nor should be suffered to be abusive.

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