'Technology is not neutral.'
Waag is a Futurelab for technology and society.
Technology is not neutral. Waag reinforces critical reflection on technology, develops technological and social design skills, and encourages social innovation.
Waag works in a trans-disciplinary team of designers, artists and scientists, utilising public research methods in the realms of technology and society. This is how Waag empowers as many people as possible to design an open, honest and inclusive future.
As of January 2021, Waag has been assigned the role of Futurelab by the Minister of Education, Culture and Science. This role can be described as follows: ‘A Future Lab is a centre for the future-oriented development of design and for the use of design and technology to solve social challenges.’ Waag was awarded this position due, in part, to the organisation’s 25 years of experience in design and artistic research in the field of technology and society.
Waag's activities primarily take place in research labs, where research and development are carried out on technological and social issues. As part of its public programme, Waag organises workshops, exhibitions, and debates. Additionally, Waag offers educational courses on creative technology and society with its Waag Academy programme. As Futurelab, Waag will be organising expeditions to planet B over the next four years, seeking an answer to the social, technological, and ecological challenges of our time.
Waag was founded in 1994 by Marleen Stikker and Caroline Nevejan. Its precedent was ‘De Digitale Stad’ (the digital city), which was the first public access portal to the internet and a social media platform before the idea even existed. Stikker stood at the forefront of the digital public domain. In her book ‘Het internet is stuk (maar we kunnen het repareren)' (The internet is broken, but we can fix it), she describes the evolution of the internet since the Digital City.
Known as the ‘Society for Old and New Media’ in its early years, Waag has since evolved into a Future Lab for technology and society. The organisation’s development and evolution has occurred gradually through many projects at the intersection of technology, art and science. In the timeline down below, you will find an overview of the highlights of Waag's work since its inception.
Waag Research Labs
Waag consists of twelve research labs that conduct research on various themes related to technology and society. These labs use research methods to empower as many people as possible to help design our future. We call this Public Research. The social environment and the perspective of citizens are central to it.
Waag Open is our weekly public programme. Within this programme, we highlight current themes, organise a variety of workshops, and present collaborations between scientists, designers and artists. Every Thursday evening, Waag opens its (digital) doors so everyone can participate. We also offer an open stage for partners and other interested parties to make proposals for additional programming.
In our Waag Academy programme, we offer courses for young people and professionals to develop students’ skills in new technologies and manufacturing methods. Waag Academy bundles and disseminates the knowledge and methods from our research labs in several formats. We offer a variety of learning methods: from intensive courses (like the BioHack Academy) to one-off co-creation workshops. The Academy programmes can take place in the Waag itself, on location at other organisations, or in spaces like Maakplaats, a makerspace that Waag has set up in collaboration with the Amsterdam Public Library.
Waag expeditions to planet B
Over the next four years, Waag will organise four expeditions to planet B, during which we will seek an answer to the social, technological, and ecological challenges of our time. These expeditions will provide a platform for designers, scientists, policymakers and citizen initiatives. Each expedition will last a year and will explore a partial aspect of our desired, shared future.
Waag is an anti-racist organisation and strives to contribute to the growing collective awareness against all forms of racism. This means we are committed to the mission of discussing, tackling, and responding to racism when we see or experience it. We write about, among other things, how prejudices, inequalities, and racism are ingrained in technology. We also want to use our position as a public organisation to educate the public about racism in order to encourage positive change. We do this through our projects, our public programmes, and in collaboration with our current and future social partners.
Waag is a Dutch foundation, managed according to the Dutch Supervisory Board model. The managing director is founder Marleen Stikker. The Supervisory Board consists of:
- Liesbet van Zoonen - Chair
- Hans Rob de Reus - Treasurer
- Pauline Westendorp - Member
- Haydee Sheombar - Member
- Uri Rosenthal - Member
- Shivan Shazad - Trainee