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Yesterday while walking around the DIY music section of Maker Faire Detroit, I heard a very familiar voice, though what the voice was saying was absolute nonsense. “People vote community achieve promise and hope together strength.” I followed the sound to find Ashley Lewis standing behind a keyboard telling a group of visitors about her Obama Board project. Each key on the keyboard is labeled with a word from Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration speech and when you hit the key, that sample from the speech is played, allowing you to string together your own sentences out of the president’s words. It was interesting to watch the way people played the keyboard; some mashed on keys and some tried to make a coherent sentence, which I found to be much harder than it looks. After talking to her about the project, it’s clear she’s a big fan of Barack Obama, but she revealed that she didn’t vote for him in the last election—she’s Canadian.

If you wish to comment, please keep your comments about the technology used and the piece itself and not about your wider political feelings, whatever they may be.

Matt Richardson

Matt Richardson

Matt Richardson is a Brooklyn-based creative technologist, Contributing Editor at MAKE, and Resident Research Fellow at New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP). He’s the co-author of Getting Started with Raspberry Pi and the author of Getting Started with BeagleBone.


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Comments

  1. Tim Dolan says:

    Perhaps if you wished people to just comment on the technology you should have refrained from telling us the makers opinion of obama.  I would suggest that you remove the last sentence of the first paragraph.

  2. Tim Dolan says:

    Perhaps if you wished people to just comment on the technology you should have refrained from telling us the makers opinion of obama.  I would suggest that you remove the last sentence of the first paragraph.

  3. Bill Marcy says:

    Of course she likes Obama, she is not living in a country being actively ruined by him.

    It will hit Canada, then she can decide if Melanin comes before survival.

  4. Bill Marcy says:

    Of course she likes Obama, she is not living in a country being actively ruined by him.

    It will hit Canada, then she can decide if Melanin comes before survival.

  5. Bill Marcy says:

    Of course she likes Obama, she is not living in a country being actively ruined by him.

    It will hit Canada, then she can decide if Melanin comes before survival.

  6. Jim Richardson says:

    do you think his teleprompter will get jealous?

    1. Gorgonzola says:

       Do we even need Obama now?  It would be trivial to hook the MIDIbama into the teleprompter.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I didn’t see keys for taking credit, directing blame or inciting classism; ‘I’, ‘the rich’, ‘inherited this economy from’, ‘George Bush’. By the way, I’m making a BO speech right now too, but at least I’ll flush it when I’m done.

  8. Anonymous says:

    So she plugged a keyboard into a laptop to play samples and taped letters to the keys and that got you excited? Does anyone have standards any more? What a pathetic display of political pandering.

    1. Anonymous says:

      It’s an interesting technology that I know others would like to figure out. I was just in a car with some DC artists last week and one of them was trying to figure out how to do a very similar thing, so there’s definitely interest.

      And I think, as a piece of installation art, being able to cut up a speech, anyone’s speech, and being about to recompose it like this to say whatever you want, is a cool idea, especially the speeches of politicians.

      1. Anonymous says:

        Your friends are in luck; there is nothing to figure out. It’s called a midi keyboard, and it is old technology. 

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MIDI_keyboard
        http://www.midi.org/aboutmidi/tut_history.php

        1. Anonymous says:

          Nobody is suggesting the tech is revolutionary or anything. It’s a midi sampler. It’s a piece of installation art and I think the idea behind it is interesting, and bet others do too. The artist I was in the car with knew nothing about this sort of tech and was going to use analog switches to turn MP3 or CD players on/off. So, for her, as an example, seeing something like this would help her out.

        2. Anonymous says:

          Wow, you must really get upset when they post about trebuchets since that is really old technology.

          1. Anonymous says:

            no, but I will be really sideways if Make won’t do a feature on how I can print a really nice political montage on my inkjet printer that I made in Microsoft Word.

          2. TotalMonkey says:

            Ben, you are so right! Your presentation at Maker Faire: Detroit was waaaaaay cooler and more inventive. What was it again?

          3. TotalMonkey says:

            Ben, you are so right! Your presentation at Maker Faire: Detroit was waaaaaay cooler and more inventive. What was it again?

      2. Tim Dolan says:

        My comment was a suggested edit that would have set the tone to what you want.  Remove that sentence and then your request at the end makes sense.

        I would ask you how stating her bias adds to the technology?  If you want to start a war you state your opinions (or anyone else’s) and then say “don’t comment on this.”

        I go to the WSJ to get discussion of such issues.  I come to make to get tech talk.

    2. Geez benlagrone, can you get past your own political bias for even a little while when you’re on a site that has nothing to do with politics.  What she did may not be the most technologically advanced hack, but it’s completely without merit.  Honestly, it’s in a similar vein to this video that was released during the Bush administration.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MT0XxtNPVdQ  It’s a video of Bush “singing” “Take a Walk on the Wild Side”.

      It’s someone that did something a little similar to what she did but with a large selection of public record Bush speeches.  In that case, it’s a lot smoother because, being pre-produced, he/she had a lot of time to auto-tune the audio to match itself better even though it’s across different recordings. 

      In the case posted here, she traded the fluidness of the above YouTube video for the ability to form sentances on the fly.  She mitigated some of the annoying inconsistency you’d normally get from using multiple recording sources by limiting herself to one, large, recording (in this case, the State of the Union Address). 

      Personally, from a technical standpoint, I think it’s a cute little hack. 

    3. Geez benlagrone, can you get past your own political bias for even a little while when you’re on a site that has nothing to do with politics.  What she did may not be the most technologically advanced hack, but it’s completely without merit.  Honestly, it’s in a similar vein to this video that was released during the Bush administration.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MT0XxtNPVdQ  It’s a video of Bush “singing” “Take a Walk on the Wild Side”.

      It’s someone that did something a little similar to what she did but with a large selection of public record Bush speeches.  In that case, it’s a lot smoother because, being pre-produced, he/she had a lot of time to auto-tune the audio to match itself better even though it’s across different recordings. 

      In the case posted here, she traded the fluidness of the above YouTube video for the ability to form sentances on the fly.  She mitigated some of the annoying inconsistency you’d normally get from using multiple recording sources by limiting herself to one, large, recording (in this case, the State of the Union Address). 

      Personally, from a technical standpoint, I think it’s a cute little hack. 

  9. Hank says:

    “After talking to her about the project, it’s clear she’s a big fan of Barack Obama”

    “If you wish to comment, please keep your comments about the
    technology used and the piece itself and not about your wider political
    feelings, whatever they may be.”

    Congratulations to Matt for introducing bias and censorship to Make. Disgusting.

    1. Anonymous says:

      How is stating what SHE likes a bias on Matt’s part? Do YOU not watch the video and conclude that she’s a big fan of the president?

      Re: Censorship
      We brought that to the MAKE comments a long time ago. We have a set of Community Guidelines. As long as you adhere to them and following a basic “Be nice” policy, we’re good.

      And I was actually the one who asked Matt to insert the part about commenting, cause I knew that the sight of Obama’s name would cause some people to cry political bias.

      1. Hank says:

        “Re: Censorship
        We brought that to the MAKE comments a long time ago.”

        I’m quite sure your intent with that policy is to prevent direct personal attacks and foul language to a minimum. Not to prevent protected free speech. However, when the author takes the time to reveal a Maker’s political beliefs, and then tells us to keep ours to ourselves THAT is bias. And I’m not the only who noticed this. Shame on you for the double standard.

        1. Anonymous says:

          You are right about the overall intent of the community standards, Hank. But we also, as moderators of the site, have the right to remove things we think are not related to the discussion at hand. Like, I removed the comment about Obama ruining our country. Not relevant to this discussion and the sort of hot-button comment I wanted to avoid.

          And honestly, if I had known that the last sentence of Matt’s post was going to be seen as bias on our part (again, to me, he’s just stating something that’s very obvious from the video and he’s also trying to make a joke about her being Canadian. I think he was perhaps trying to lighten the mood so that the piece wouldn’t be taken in a bad light. Sorry it didn’t come off like that, but I don’t feel like changing it now.)

          1. Hank says:

            “But we also, as moderators of the site, have the right to remove things we think are not related to the discussion at hand.”

            Like the statement that the Maker in question is “…a big fan of Barack Obama, but she revealed that she didn’t vote for him in the last election—she’s Canadian”

            None of which are, or should be, mentioned due to the fact that they are NOT RELATED to what she built or the technologies utilized, and which should have been edited in the initial posting.

            “…but I don’t feel like changing it now.”

            So then, by your own self-admitted sedentary response, you support the authors evidenced political bias.

            I have, and will continue, to support Make and the Maker community however I am deeply disappointed with the bias you and Mr. Richardson have chosen to invoke and support.

            Sir, I bid you good day, happy making and, hopefully, better future editorial judgement.

          2. Anonymous says:

            The editorial bias is further displayed by lowering the technical standard to display a project that, on it’s own may deserve some accolades for cleverness, is far below the Make technical standard, but makes a political statement. To do so is disrespectful, exclusionary and arrogant to subscribers and readers who are here to participate in a technical discussion and find editors using it for their political pulpit and campaign support for a highly controversial political figure. And furthermore to put on a play of astonishment at our umbrage is the result of editorializing on a such a controversial figure is this is willful ignorance or intellectual dishonesty.

          3. Anonymous says:

            First off, MAKE doesn’t have a technical standard. One of our most popular projects is the vibrobot, an eccentric motor strapped to a mint tin! That kind of leaves the field open for a wide range of projects.

            And now its a political pulpit and campaign support? He’s the president of the United States. It’s high-tech Americana art! We would have posted the project it it were using the voice of Ronald Reagan, John F Kennedy, or any other president or public figure. We’re certainly not going to skip posting it just because it’s Obama.

          4. Anonymous says:

            First off, MAKE doesn’t have a technical standard. One of our most popular projects is the vibrobot, an eccentric motor strapped to a mint tin! That kind of leaves the field open for a wide range of projects.

            And now its a political pulpit and campaign support? He’s the president of the United States. It’s high-tech Americana art! We would have posted the project it it were using the voice of Ronald Reagan, John F Kennedy, or any other president or public figure. We’re certainly not going to skip posting it just because it’s Obama.

          5. Can I just ask you all to shut up now? Seriously! Move on! I get all your points, but WOW. 

          6. Can I just ask you all to shut up now? Seriously! Move on! I get all your points, but WOW. 

          7. Part of the story behind this project is that Ashley made it because she’s inspired by Barack Obama. That is simply statement of fact. I would have made the same statement of fact had she made the keyboard based on speeches of any other politician. So, with all due respect, to suggest that there’s any bias on my part is preposterous.

            When I interview makers, I always ask them what inspired their projects or why they made them. When she answered the question, I was struck by the irony that she’s a huge fan of Obama, but didn’t vote for him because she’s Canadian. I found it amusing and thought the readers of MAKE would feel the same way (whatever their politics).

      2. Hank says:

        “Re: Censorship
        We brought that to the MAKE comments a long time ago.”

        I’m quite sure your intent with that policy is to prevent direct personal attacks and foul language to a minimum. Not to prevent protected free speech. However, when the author takes the time to reveal a Maker’s political beliefs, and then tells us to keep ours to ourselves THAT is bias. And I’m not the only who noticed this. Shame on you for the double standard.

  10. Dennis Mabrey says:

    Well the maker seems nice in the video.  

  11. Dennis Mabrey says:

    Well the maker seems nice in the video.  

  12. Becky Stern says:

    I love this project and video! It really mimics the way Obama talks, with all the pauses between words and such. What a great maker an a nice find at Maker Faire Detroit. Congrats Ashley!

  13. Sam Moss says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but the way she has the keyboard set up is that
    it triggers the soundfile on the laptop which then plays through the
    speakers. Would it be possible to trigger something other than a sound
    file, like for example, use the midi input to trigger something like an
    x10 module to turn on a light. If so it’d be possible to set up a whole
    building to flash different rooms for different note and ‘play’ a
    building?

    1. Absolutely!  MIDI has been used and continues to be used for communications other than music.  One of the first multiplayer computer games, MIDI Maze, used a MIDI network to connect multiple Atari STs together.  MIDI is also used in theater stage lighting and pyrotechnics if Wikipedia is to be believed.  There is even an adapter that allows you to use a MIDI instrument, like an electric drum kit, in place of those cheap plastic controllers used to play games like “Guitar Hero” and “Rock Band”.

  14. Absolutely AMAZING how mentally-deficient some of you humans are…

    (I’m sure this comment will get flagged for me being a ‘meanie’ but seriously, c’mon folks. Some of you are just arguing for the sake of arguing. This is not a political issue. Only when you inject your own political biases into it, is when it becomes an issue for you. Go get a job or grow up or something – I’m tired of being surrounded by “grown-up” infants. And then some of you have the gall to say “shame on you” for ‘having a political bias’ when you yourself are doing the same – shame on YOU for making a big deal out of NOTHING. What an amazing spectacle of brain-matter fail. Thanks for the show!)

  15. Lol, at first I thought she was making fun of him. Given that his speeches are generally just mad libs for presidents. Remember kids never ever pay attention to what a politician says. Always watch what they do!

  16. I find it hilarious/sad that it never occurred to her that this kind of thing really only can be applied to Obama, as no other major world leader gives speeches that are as littered with vague fluffery and utterly devoid of meaning/substance.

  17. I find it hilarious/sad that it never occurred to her that this kind of thing really only can be applied to Obama, as no other major world leader gives speeches that are as littered with vague fluffery and utterly devoid of meaning/substance.

  18. Wow, this is absolutely cool. Would love to play this keyboard live!
    A similiar speech mixer is online here: http://www.speechmix.com/

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