Introduction: Vootle

Upon examining Google Profile Ad Preferences, One begins to learn how Google profiles monitors search history and browsing behaviour in order to label users based on their interests. Based on data analytics, Google facilitates the delivery of content and advertisements to target appropriate user groups. This can be observed in the photographs below. Google profiles has its users opt in by default and a vast majority of users are unaware that google collects this information. Sites such as Facebook also create a user interest profiles, which provides targeted ads and posts to its users without making it evident. The purpose of the Vootle is to apply the concept of associating attributes to selected subcultures, based on a user's personal input. The optional inputs are based on two political parties of the 2015 Canadian Federal Election.

Step 1: Recreating the Conceptual Journey

How Google Profiles and Facebook Ad Preferences labels its users based on their previous inputs inspired the creation of the Vootle, a machine that explicitly allows a user to see what they have been labelled as, based on the political party they have "voted" for. This object provides users with the option to add more word associations, with their chosen subculture, however they cannot remove those that are already in the "database". Vootle is intended to be a cultural probe that provokes open ended questions and seeks participants engagement whether they agree with being labeled and how desirable is it to modify the labels.

The following allows one to recreate the conceptual process that the Vootle facilitates.

  • Amongst a group, decide upon 2 or more subcultures to analyze
  • Discuss, debate, and decide on associated words that can be generally applied to each subculture, while being as accurate as possible.
  • Through collaboration, begin to understand how difficult it can be to attribute universal words or ideas with such large subcultures
  • Frame the experience in the context of Google Profiles or Facebook Ads, and critique these systems, and recognize their flaws.

Using the quiz and our personal anecdotes, we discussed and came to an agreement on a list of words that are associated with those that support the Liberals and those that support the Conservatives, a list of those words can be found above. It may be uncomfortable to know that we are classified as voters, Google and Facebook users to be certain people with certain preferences without taking into account the multifaceted nature of individuals who do not necessarily adhere to the neat boxes of algorithms.

Step 2: Recreating the Physical Object

While the physical object can be built in many different ways, recreating the conceptual path is fundamental to the Vootle. In essence, the physical object should accept a user's inputted selection of the subculture, then dispense associated words with that subculture to the user. Users can add additional associations as they feel necessary, however they cannot remove words that have been stored within the "database". The following tools, materials and steps are required in order to recreate the object in its original form.

  • Arduino Uno/Genuino Kit
  • Wires
  • Breadboard
  • Servo Motor
  • 2 Concave Buttons (or pushbuttons)
  • 1, 4'2" PVC Pipe
  • 1, 1/2" 4'/8' Aspen Plywood
  • Jig Saw, Hole Saw, Table Saw, Drill, Nail Gun, Hot Glue Gun,
  • 2 Plastic Capsules

Upon building the structure (measure twice cut once!) install the PVC piping along with the 45 and 90 degree angled elbows. allow for cuts to dispense the plastic capsules filled with the associated words. Refer to the next step in order to create the electronic and coding components.

Step 3: Recreating the Electronic Components/Code

Code Description

In this project, there are input source: two concave buttons. If the red concave button is pressed, Arduino receive digital signal from PIN 2 and the servo motor will wave its pole from angle 0 to 90 degrees. If the blue concave button is pressed, Arduino receive digital signal from PIN 3 and the servo motor will wave its pole from angle 180 to 90 degrees.

Code Customization

Angle Adjustion

You can adjust the angle that motor waves by editing pos variable.


for (pos = 0; pos <= 90; pos++) #Motor waves from angle 0 to 90 degrees

for (pos = 0; pos <= 180; pos++) #Motor waves from angle 0 to 180 degrees

Speed Adjustion

If you want to adjust the speed of the motor waves, you can edit increment variable in the for loop.


for (pos = 0; pos <=90; pos++) #Motor waves 1 degree per move.

for (pos = 0; pos <=90; pos +=5) #Motor waves 5 degree per move.

Refer to the included schematics to recreate the electronic components.