Waag Society is a knowledge institute using creative technology for social innovation. With its concepts, pilots and prototypes Waag Society wishes to make a contribution to the design of the information society. In this it doesn't let itself be lead by technology but instead looks at the possibilities of people, their creativity and culture. The interplay of technology and culture is the driving force of all Waag Society's activities.
More information about Waag Society is available on our website.
Developing software has been one of the main activities of Waag Society since its start in 1996. Over the course of the years, the KeyWorx platform became an important tool. It has been used to power many of the projects that we have done (e.g. ScratchWorx, KidsEye, Amsterdam RealTime). In 2004, it was decided to make KeyWorx part of the Open Source community.
Open source software development can be seen as a generalization of Waag Society's own approach to software development. Under the motto 'users as designers' we have followed a developmental approach that aims to integrate users closely into the development process. Opening up the development process to interested developers and potentially also to end users, created possibilities for users to exert influence on the design of the applications that they use. We believed that if this happened in a coordinated and well supported way, it would improve the quality of the resulting software.
Quality, however, was not our only motivation for adapting our development process. Much of our development is supported with public funds, either directly via (project) subsidies or indirectly in the form of commissioned development for publicly funded organizations, such as museums or schools. This encouraged us to make the knowledge generated in the process available in the public domain. Waag Society subscribes to many of the principles on which the free and open-source software community is based. We have actively been advocating the use of open-source software and open standards. Opening up our own code was the logical consequence of these activities.
Almost all of Waag Society's servers (and there are many of them) run on GNU/Linux. Waag Society operates an always-on video streaming facility that either streams whatever material is provided via a set of plugs in the outside wall of the building (see: plugin.waag.org for more information) or streams events taking place in the Theatrum Anatomicum (see: connect.waag.org for a video archive of past events). This facility is based exclusively on open-source software (MPEG4IP/Darwin streaming server).
In 2003, Waag Society in collaboration with Hivos and Sarai organized an international workshop on the role of open source software in the context of development cooperation. This workshop brought together software developers and persons working for development NGOs for three days of intense discussions and knowledge sharing. The participants issued a manifesto directed at funders and development NGOs to realize and implement the possibilities of open source software in this sector. In 2007, Waag Society initiated a Fablab in The Netherlands, after a concept of Neil Gershenfeld of MIT Boston. In a Fablab mainly open source software is used to drive the computer operated machines. The Open Hardware approach of this Fablab is in line with the Open Source and Open Content (CC) communities.