With bike sharing coming to Boulder this week via Boulder B-cycle’s launch, I am reminded of all the things that I’d like to fully experience but not actually own. B-cycle offers a convenient way for people to hop on a bike, pedal around and then return the bike with no further commitment (aside from the initial program fee).
What I’d like to see, however, is the same system of carefree borrowing applied to gadgets and high-tech goods.
For every new doohickey that I purchase, a new one emerges from the bush to taunt me with its slight speed increase and incrementally shinier exterior. My eyes glaze over, and I instantly lust for the new arrival, but common sense dictates that I can’t buy every new device. I can covet them via blog posts, fiddle with them at electronics stores, but my bank account would dissolve if I tried to catch ’em all like they were Pokémon.
This is where the bike sharing analogy comes in. What if there were a local service that allowed users to pay a fixed sum per month in order to gain access to an arsenal of consumer electronics that you neither own nor are truly responsible for. For the sake of phonetics, let’s call this “tech sharing.”
A tech-sharing system in Boulder would allow cost-prohibitive items (such as Apple iPads and BlackBerry PlayBooks) to fall into the greasy, Funyun-stained hands of local nerds without the sting of having paid a large amount of money for the honor. Instead, the transaction would be a lot closer to the act of renting a movie. You give someone a few bucks, you take something home for a few days, and then you return it to the source.
Tech sharing would liberate Boulder’s geeks from the binds of covetousness and usher in a lifestyle of blissful gizmo indulgence. The latest phones, watches, tablets and creepy robots from Japan would all be yours to demo without any real responsibility involved.
Some jackass would probably add a social network on top of it so you could, like, Facebook your tweets or whatever. Members of the network would be called TechShareBears so that self-esteem is no longer an issue.
Anyway, the tech-sharing premise is simple, but because I’m a genius, I thought of a way to make it even better. It’s rote and predictable to provide access to the most popular devices. I propose that we take it a step further and include access to those inscrutably weird gadgets commonly seen at The Sharper Image in malls across the U.S.
You know the ones — the claw-shaped head massagers, the solar-powered blender, the talking scale that broadcasts your weight to Facebook and also unfriends people thinner than you.
These are the devices that we’ve always wanted to try out but never did because we were afraid of flushing money down the toilet. If they were added to the tech-sharing vault of wonder, dozens of local residents could finally realize their dreams of complicating their lives with poorly-constructed-but-marvelously-named garbage.
If Boulder is ready to share bikes with strangers, then it’s ready to share electronics with even stranger strangers. I’ve made a pretty cogent case for tech sharing, I think. Lend me your ears, Boulder. I’ll give them back, I promise.
Ef Rodriguez writes about geeky stuff for the Colorado Daily once a week. Facebook his tweets at firstname.lastname@example.org.