Sunday, 14 February 2010

Word of the day

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.


Kathryn Greenhill said...

Here's a 38 sec video of the tech petting zoo we held at the W A Library unconference in 2008.

We just grabbed anything gadgety from around our houses and brought them in so people could touch and try and start talking about them to each other.

You can see an Apple Mac II (or is it a Mac Classic? ) , XO (One laptop per child) laptop, voice recorder, netbooks and iphones (which were novel then)... and more...

Derek Whitehead said...

Inspecta Gadget is a pretty good name for the tech petting Zoo, too. At the Ashburton Festival on Sunday we devised a quality measure for petting zoos (there was one) relating to the size of the animals (bigger but not too big is good) - is there one for tech petting zoos?