AUSTIN, Texas, March 10, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Acts of Sharing, an online platform for users to lend and borrow items, was selected as one of five finalists for the 2011 South by Southwest Interactive (SXSWi) Awards.
Widely recognized for uncovering the best new digital work, the SXSWi Awards identify the online industry's most innovative sites based on four criteria: visual design, creativity, content, and user experience.
Acts of Sharing earned the finalist title in the community category, which recognizes "social networks and wikis that have quickly developed an extraordinarily active multi-user community and an exceptional following of users who assist with content development."
"Acts of Sharing is a platform created to connect people to what they need through the people they love. Most everything you're looking for can be found through the relationships you share," says Brian Boitmann, who conceived and developed the site.
"Ironically, social networks can sometimes prevent us from being social," says Boitmann. "By contrast, Acts of Sharing creates meet-ups and other opportunities for face-to-face interaction that enrich our relationships with others in our community."
The easily-navigated site allows users to list items they have to lend or want to borrow. An online video walks new users through the process, which includes finding or suggesting friends for the network, and viewing the most shared items and most wanted items. Books and DVDs, an iPad tablet, a camera, a vacuum cleaner, and a computer recently appeared on the most-shared and most-wanted lists. During the SXSW conference trade show, Acts of Sharing will announce a new mobile app that further improves the "smart" shopping and sharing experience.
Intentionally launched on Earth Day, 2010, Boitmann envisioned Acts of Sharing "to enable a cultural shift toward sustainable living and richer community by empowering people to share their possessions in a simple and effective way."
The idea first occurred to Boitmann while in college visiting a close friend. He noticed that five DVDs on his friend's shelf were the same ones Boitmann had paid to view over previous months. He realized most possessions get little use.
"The majority of what we have sits idly on shelves, in garages, and throughout our homes for long periods of time without being used," Boitmann explains. "If I would have known that my friend down the street owned the films I was looking for, I would have been able to borrow them and have a good conversation about the movies afterward as well."
Later in graduate school at The University of Texas at Austin, Boitmann spent time studying social entrepreneurship where he evaluated the idea for Acts of Sharing, developed the business plan, and began seeking seed money. Funding was secured by December, 2009 and Boitmann launched the site four months later.
Austin, Texas proved to be an ideal location to test the site as a result of its size, large college-age population and widespread technical expertise.
"Austin's culture has a small-town vibe and a high tech savvy," says Boitmann. "Together those encourage the openness and trust needed for a culture of collaboration, whether that's brainstorming a new application or lending a bike for a morning ride. We just wanted to make that even more accessible."
Soon after launch, Boitmann added an organizational sharing feature to the site that allows non-profits, churches and other large groups to borrow and lend items and people. Besides computers, phone equipment and speaker systems, interns and professional consultants appear on the lists for sharing.
"Knowing what those in your community have and are willing to share enables you to find much of what you are buying and looking for on a regular basis," says Boitmann. "Together we have so much more than we often realize."
Launched on Earth Day, 2010, Acts of Sharing is an online platform for users to lend and borrow items. Adapted for both individual and organizational use, the platform was designed to enable a cultural shift toward sustainable living and richer community by empowering people to share their possessions in a simple and effective way. By easily accessing items which are available from friends locally, users are able to save money through smarter consumption. A mobile app to be launched during SXSWi 2011 will further improve the "smart" shopping and sharing experience. More information can be found at www.actsofsharing.com.
SOURCE Acts of Sharing