We’re going to make NERDVANA great again. Trust me, it’s gonna be huuuuuuge. Vague campaign-season histrionics aside, it’s not often a chance comes along to do something you love, and do it your own way. That’s basically how this site started — and now, finally, it’s how it will continue.
We’re free to make a fresh start on our own terms. I hope you’re not completely sick of reboots just yet. (This is going to get a little meta.)
Almost nine years ago, I created the Nerdvana blog while working as a copy editor and page designer at the East Valley Tribune, when the paper was owned by Freedom Communications and based in Downtown Mesa. Like a tale out of legend, almost immediately I was joined on this epic quest by some stalwart companions: graphic artist Scott Kirchhofer and online editor Chris Adams. We had a lot of fun, and we learned a lot riding the turbulent wave of niche newspaper blogs that has largely subsided and learning the ins and outs of social media by trial and error. We even won some pretty nice awards along the way.
Since the blog was founded, the Tribune has been sold twice. In between those sales I moved on to a different newspaper in another state. The other guys had already left, and the Tribune continued to shrink amid industry turmoil.
But always Nerdvana held a place in my heart, and at least a part of each day has involved tending or feeding this thing I created, and daydreaming of what it could have been — and what it still could become.
I wasn’t alone. Bob Leeper kept things moving along in Arizona, covering local conventions and breathing new life into the site when its founders had largely moved on. A handful of other contributors have helped keep it going, too — all, as I was, doing it for fun and to support the creative community that inspired Nerdvana.
Various managers at the Tribune supported our endeavors due to the pageviews our free content brought in. They even ran some of it in print. Most of them made sure we had what we needed to stay up and running so that content could keep flowing. Some tried to develop Nerdvana into something it wasn’t (a tech industry journal, in one case … with good intentions, but just not what we were about). But often they also supported our core pop culture crusade, at least in their own way.
How many people can say they’ve had a fan convention named in their blog’s honor? One very hot August Friday night in 2012, the Tribune (along with Bookmans, the store against which I now judge all bookshops) sponsored the Mesa 2nd Friday event that was re-branded “NerdvanaCon” in celebration of our fifth anniversary. The publisher at the time even flew me out to be a part of the festivities.
I grew up at the Trib, if I ever grew up at all — and Nerdvana was a big part of that, one way or another. But nine years is a long time in Internet years. It’s even a long time in print media, where some things can change fast (while other things never change at all). The paper’s new owners have decided that Nerdvana doesn’t fit into their strategy going forward. This presented me with a challenge, and an opportunity, that I couldn’t ignore. I’m grateful to those who have been supportive, but those people are now gone, and it’s time to take a fresh look at this thing. And start having some fun with it again!
It may not look (yet) like anything has changed, and many things haven’t. Many things won’t. But there’s this: I am now the owner of Nerdvana.
This is an exciting development for me, but it comes with more questions than answers. Our archives are largely intact, but there is some past content that still needs to be restored (we do have it, though) as well as a number of mixed-up author links from when this site was previously extracted from the “network” of now-defunct Tribune blogs, some of whose content was lost utterly when the paper was sold by Freedom. So while I have the good fortune to say a large part of my brand for the past decade is secure, it now has a new home: NerdvanaMedia.com.
There’s a lot of work to be done. And it’s going to require your help, doing what you’ve always done: Reading posts, and sharing them. Liking us on Facebook and following @Nerdvana on Twitter. You can follow Nerdvana’s channel on Apple News. Contribute what you can — content, tips, suggestions, Bitcoin (kidding, sort of) … even if it’s just helping to spread the word about what we’re doing. Give us feedback or just comment on our stories.
There’s also the matter of making this sustainable. I still have a “day job” beyond this (two, if you count teaching), as do the other contributors. Maintaining a site like this isn’t free, and it’s not easy — and that’s before we even consider expanding anything, just keeping things as they are. There may be a crowdfunding campaign in our future, and banner ads aren’t going anywhere, at least for now. If you really want to support what we’re doing, consider disabling ad-blockers for our site. Let us know what works, and what doesn’t. Ask about sponsorships, if you think it might fit your organization’s strategy. If you want to be a part of this endeavor in any way, please just reach out. Hailing frequencies are always open. The possibilities, now, are endless.
It may not look as good on a cheap Chinese trucker cap as a certain presidential candidate’s campaign slogan, but the goal is to make Nerdvana great again. The first order of business is to fix what needs fixing and make it support itself, but why not aim higher? I’ve waited too long for this to do anything else.
I want to thank everyone who’s supported Nerdvana. It’s been quite a journey so far, but it’s far from over. In fact, the best is yet to come. Believe me — it’s going to be incredible.
Jayson Peters is the owner, publisher and editor of Nerdvana.