Thank you to Kim Tairi for technology petting zoo. Kim, as well as being a staff member here in the Swinburne University Library, is the Vice President of VALA. Last week was the biennial VALA Conference, a particularly important time for VALA, and for technological terms.
A petting zoo, as most of us know, is a usually mobile collection of animals suitable for interaction with young children. Hotfrog has a nice catalogue of petting zoos accessible to Victorians, and I am sure that readers in other states, New Zealand and overseas will find local suppliers as well. The Western Australian Government even has guidelines for petting zoos; there is good coverage of issues such as don'ts (kissing animals or eating their food for example, or including bats in the zoo).
Technological petting zoos receive a good deal less coverage online, unfortunately. Leafing through the WA guidelines, it is clear that a more or less completely unrelated set of guidelines would need to be created for technological petting zoos (less emphasis on handwashing, for example, and more on power outlets).
The concept of a technology petting zoo has been around for quite some time. Stephen Abrams mentioned it in a February 2008 posting. There is heaps of stuff online - 119,000 results from a simple Google search. As Beth Galloway of the Massachusetts Library Association says "Nothing bites or induces allergies - we promise." The potential content of a technological petting zoo is vast - its not just limited to pigs, chickens, goats, lambs, guinea pigs and ducks. You could start with ebook readers, but the concept extends to software as well. Here's Jeffrey Cufaude with a host of ideas.
Something for VALA next time, or Information Online perhaps, although there were plenty of cute things to pet if you wandered around the VALA exhibition hall last week.