Celebrating Our First Birthday

I can still hardly believe it as I write this, but as of today, both The France Hopper Network and ai|inc are now a year old. Last year, at 10:18pm edt, I quietly flipped the switch on what was started as a project to try to centralize everything I did on the internet into one place. Turns out that’s a pretty damn hard thing to do. Today, that project now exists mainly as the Bio and Connect pages on here. So now that I’ve done that, now what? Where to go from there? Well, while I was working on gathering everything I did into one place, I also decided to experiment with running a web series, Life at Drexel and A Week in Philly. Well, turns out running a web series on a regular basis is a pretty damn hard thing to do too, especially when you’re already trying to manage your studies as a college student. But it is still very much something I’m interested in doing. While they won’t be the regular series I was hopping they’d be, I do plan to continue both Life at Drexel and a Week in Philly.

If you’ve really been paying attention, you might have noticed I’ve quietly begun other experiments on here as well. For example, the Projects page is a list of all the projects I can publicly list as either being completed or currently being worked on. While I was co-oping at BMS, the Yam It! button was created and was launched publicly around March. A couple of weeks ago, I quietly opened a new division of ai, Hopper Books and Media, which you can find on the Store page. I certainly don’t expect it to pay for my tuition to Drexel, but it’s a project I started just to see if anyone would use it. It also recently received a facelift.

My latest project is one that’s less than a week old. In fact, it’s one I started without even realizing how close it was to the birthday of ai. When I did finally look at my calendar, I decided I needed to add something additional to the end of it, and to delay its release until today. It was actually originally intended for release this past weekend. So, what is this project? Well, see for yourself:

As the credits show, there are a lot of people – individuals and groups – to thank for making this first year possible. In case you aren’t in the mood to watch an hour-long video (actually it’s 50:06), I’d like to thank all of the following people for making this first year possible, whether they realize they played a role or not:

  • Eric Buchholz, Wayne Strange, Jeron Moore, Leonard Cheung, Sam Ferrara, and the entire Zelda Reorchestrated team, past and present. I’ll never be able to thank you lot enough for giving me the honor of working with such an amazing team.
  • Brian Costa, Boleslaw “Trondheim” Dart, and Ryan Hammett for being awesome people and good friends – even though we’ve never met in person.
  • Braxton Burks, the genius behind Pokémon Reorchestrated and another generally awesome guy.
  • Danny Choo, whose A Week in Tokyo posts were the inspiration for The France Hopper Network, for being yet another awesome guy, and for being an inspiration in general.
  • Mom and Dad, for supporting me in my decision to attend Drexel – even if it means $53,000 a year.
  • Uncle Tom and Aunt Steph, for your generous support for school.
  • The Philadelphia Orchestra, for giving me something to do every weekend, complete with new music to discover.
  • Khürt Williams, Pamela Howell, and Prasanna Sarma for being awesome co-workers at BMS who still check-in on Plus and Foursquare.
  • Stephen Montero and Victor Davidson, for being two awesome childhood friends.
  • Drexel University Public Safety and Penn Security, for leaving me be as I waltzed around both campuses with a camera in hand, totally filming my walk down the sidewalks. And for keeping the area safe 😉
  • Every single last fan of Zelda Reorchestrated. Your incredible support is what gives us a reason to keep going.
  • Automattic, Inc, the company behind WordPress, the platform The France Hopper Network runs off of.
  • Apple Inc, for the iPhone most of this was shot on, the Mac Pro it was edited on, and iMovie, the software it was edited in.
  • Sony Corporation, for the DSC-H55 that is my primary camera, and the MDR-V150s and XBA-1iPs used to sound-check this video.
  • Rival Bros. Coffee Roasters, for being the source of the latte that wakes me up in the morning and the affogato that is an afternoon treat.
  • Vernalicious, for the amazing food when I don’t have the time to walk all the way down to the Hans. And for just being better food in general 😉
  • Starbucks Coffee, for the coffee that keeps me awake in the afternoon, night, and ungodly hours of the morning.
  • All of my Twitter followers and friends for your ideas and support when I’m having a shitty day.
  • Every single last reader, regular or not, of The France Hopper Network, and every company whose software and hardware makes running it possible.
  • Zelda Reorchestrated, for graciously hosting The France Hopper Network.

As the second to last bullet says, even if this is your very first time on the France Hopper Network, today is thanks to you. I’ve managed many websites over the years, but running your own, personal site is completely different. Personally, I’d say it’s the hardest kind to run. Coming up with a dream for a website is easy. Making it a reality is less so. Even before it became the slogan for ai, dreams can happen are three words that I live by. Today is just one example that they are true.

So what happens now? That’s hard to say for sure. I like to think of The France Hopper Network as a project that may well never be completed because it’s constantly changing. I like to think of every division of ai as a project. ai itself is a project. Every day of our lives is a project. Life is a project. It’s up to you to decide what will become of yours before it ends. Your life is the project you’ll always have. You can do whatever you want with it. But you only have so many days to work on it. Don’t waste them. Dream big. Try to achieve even the craziest of dreams. Because you know what? Dreams can happen.

Thank you for making this one possible.

Stephen James Weber

– Founder, CEO ai|inc

PS: You can now access The France Hopper Network from www.fhnwrk.com 😉

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