When ever I show my website to others, the first question I get is always “What’s the name supposed to mean?” Tonight, I’d like to finally set the records straight. I’ll begin with the story behind ai|inc, the parent company of The France Hopper Network.
Back in the early 2000s, one of the things I would do in my free time was sketch out towns I’d like to build in old, unused notebooks I had lying around my desk. It was a time when I played Sim City regularly. I sucked at the financial part of the game, but oh did I love to build. At one point, I decided “Hey, I should draw in a building for my company.” At the time, my “company” was no more than the company name my computer would periodically ask for when installing software. I began with simply Stephen’s Inc. In what I believe was 2003, I discovered and fell in love with Code: Lyoko. You’ll hear more about that later, but it changed Stephen’s Inc. to Lyoko Inc. My dad at some point mentioned to me that in France, they use SARL instead of Inc, so the name of my “company” again changed to Lyoko SARL. Some time around 2005, I started writing software – poorly – and realized that if I want to actually start a company, for legality reasons, Lyoko SARL probably wasn’t going to be something I could pull off. From what I’ve been able to find flipping through those old notebooks I sketched in, I changed my “company” name yet again, thins time to Always Imagining, Inc. Needless to say, that was a mouthful and in roughly mid-2006, Always Imagining, Inc. became shorted to just AI, Inc. At the time, I was still greatly interested in Code: Lyoko, especially the technology behind it. One of the things I really wanted to do was build an almost exact replica of Lyoko. I say almost because, well, if you watched the show, you know XANA was an evil supercomputer. My replica would still have an artificial intelligence system present, but not an evil one. Somehow. Nonetheless, the focus of AI, Inc shifted to – you guessed it – artificial intelligence. Today, AI, Inc is written as ai|inc and focuses on web publishing and development. Ai is indeed something I’d love to work on though some day 😉
As for The France Hopper Network, well, France Hopper is indeed from Code: Lyoko as well. Shortly after the first mention of him on the show, I began using France Hopper as my alias online. I still do in most cases today. There are a few places where I’ve been beaten to it. Nonetheless, for those of you who didn’t watch the show, France Hopper was the creator of Lyoko. Plain and simple, I wanted to be the real-life France Hopper. I can’t say it’s something I’m actively pursuing right now, but again, I certainly wouldn’t mind. So, to break down the name, the “France Hopper” part is my alias and the “Network” part exists because this started as a project where I wanted to compile everything I did online into one place. It was to be my portfolio. Today, it serves that purpose to an extent. It’s also obviously my blog and a playground for me to develop various things for the web.
So there who have it. Both names do indeed have a personal meaning for me. They are a reflection of my life growing up. That said, who knows, ten years down the line ai|inc may undergo a name change again. There are quite literally thousands of things I’d like ai to become, but the technology isn’t there yet, I certainly don’t have the skills right now to do what I’d like to, and I sure as hell don’t have the financials it would require – and it would require billions. But, as you should know by now, I believe you should never stop dreaming, because dreams can most certainly happen if you work for them. Just as there are no shortcuts in life, there are no shortcuts in making a dream come true either.