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Will tech be the end of ownership?

John D. Sutter
Zipcar is a company that effectively uses technology to help people make better use of their stuff, says Lisa Gansky.
Zipcar is a company that effectively uses technology to help people make better use of their stuff, says Lisa Gansky.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Connections make it easier for us to share stuff like DVDs, clothes and cars, says expert
  • Internet and mobile phone technology make connections easier, says Lisa Gansky
  • Zipcar lets people share car ownership, is good example of trend, says Gansky
  • Zipcar uses technology to track the location of the car, history of driver, cleanliness of car

Camden, Maine (CNN) -- Can gadgets help us own less stuff?

Yes, says internet entrepreneur Lisa Gansky, author of the book "The Mesh: Why the Future of Business is Sharing."

Mobile phones and social networks are connecting people with unused stuff in ways never before seen, Gansky said at the PopTech conference, an annual event focused on new ideas in innovation, social change and technology.

These connections make it easier for us to share stuff like DVDs, clothes and cars, instead of owning them outright.

"We're trading basically less stuff for more experiences," she said.

"If we think of things like Netflix and Pandora, we have in the last 10 years really shifted our relationship. We have a much greater access to music and film, for example, by not owning it. There are whole generations and cultures of people who may well skip over ownership all together."

Zipcar, a company that lets people share car ownership, is a prominent example of this trend. Zipcar uses technology to track the location of its cars, information about driver timeliness in returning vehicles, the cleanliness of each car, and the most efficient place for each to get cleaned.

This enables people to share an item they otherwise would spend a substantial amount of their income on, but use for a very small portion of their day.

People only use their cars about 8 percent of the day, she said, and the rest of that time -- 92 percent of the day -- someone else could be using them.

For that reason, other "peer-to-peer" car sharing companies -- like RelayRides, WhipCar and Spride Share -- have popped up to enable these kinds of connections.

To make the sharing easier, people need to know where their neighbors' cars are and when they're available for shared use, she said.

"We already have a lot of stuff," she said.

The question now is, "How do we use what we have effectively?"

Location technology may be part of the answer.

[TECH: NEWSPULSE]

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