When thinking about the South By Southwest festival, most usually envision mobs, music wafting from all directions and long lines of people waiting for movies and concerts. However, there is another important category in this annual festival: the Interactive competition.
The Interactive competition is a contest that analyzes innovative ideas and upstart tech companies then awards the best for their ingenuity and ability to contribute to their community. One of the five finalists in the community section was Acts of Sharing. This upstart company was the brainchild of a graduate student here at the University of Texas.
The website combines Facebook and Amazon interfaces to make it easy to lend and borrow items rather than buying them. When a person signs up with Acts of Sharing, they can create and maintain a list of people whom they allow to view items they’re are willing to lend out. The photos of items that participants are willing to share come off of a picture database just like Amazon, making it effortless to post objects and thereby alleviating the hassle of taking a photo, uploading it and posting it onto the site. The ease of this system allows it to be a viable alternative to similar sites that sell products, such as eBay and Amazon. Acts of Sharing has a leg up on the competition because it allows participants to obtain a product for free rather than paying a price plus shipping and handling.
Acts of Sharing’s innovative idea plays perfectly into a college student’s lifestyle. Everyone knows the stereotype of a poor college kid. However, sometimes we do need a little help affording our textbooks, or we need to pinch our pennies and not buy the DVD that we really want. Acts of Sharing works to our advantage. If a friend posts his $150 calculus book and lends it to you, think of what you could do with the extra cash. Plus, that book gets a little extra use before your friend sells it back to the Co-op for a measly dividend.
Sharing on a broad scale not only benefits individuals, but it makes the user feel like a good person and a part of something bigger. Sharing is also eco-friendly and sustainable because it reduces the need to manufacture new products, leaving us with a healthier environment. If that isn’t enough to persuade you of the benefits of lending, think about how much more room you’ll have around if people are borrowing items that you’ve only used once or twice.
All of these reasons to temporarily give your possessions to a friend are important, but as college students our focus is often on how to save the most money. By borrowing, we can scrounge up extra cash that we can use to buy an ACL pass or fill up our gas tank. When we better the community and try to stretch the potential of our belongings, we end up benefitting ourselves in the end. If Acts of Sharing was notable enough to be recognized in a nationally renowned festival, then we can bet that it has potential to create something great and benefit us in a way that is immediately evident and tangible.