Where have you been?
Many of our readers have noted that Neon Dystopia has been on a hiatus for more than a month. This is true, and I want to apologize to our readers, fans, and the cyberpunk community as a whole, for not addressing this earlier. You deserve an explanation. To begin, I’d like to provide a brief history of Neon Dystopia and a peek behind the curtain. Neon Dystopia was founded in late 2014 by myself and Zymepunk, our web developer who built the original site. We started with a heavy focus on reviews and synthwave music, but quickly we started to break into providing historical insight into the cyberpunk subgenre and subculture, philosophical discussion, and ruminations on technology too. In order to keep up with our growing field of coverage, covering all cyberpunk related topics, we brought on other writers to assist us on a volunteer basis. It is our goal to eventually become a paying venue, but because it is challenging to turn a profit as a media outlet and I am not independently wealthy, this has not yet materialized. That being said, we have never expanded our support staff and I run the everyday operations of the site, social media, content generation, editing, updates to the database, and do anything else that comes up. In the last 3+ years, we’ve built Neon Dystopia from a hobby project into an important part of the cyberpunk community organically and have an international cohort of writers. In late 2017, Zymepunk left Neon Dystopia to focus on his own work, leaving us without a developer, thus some of the technical hiccups that I’m sure many of you have noticed.
Besides technical support, Neon Dystopia has been, and is, single-handedly run by one person with basically no funding. I’ve been resistant to implementing classic monetization strategies on Neon Dystopia for various reasons. Here is my basic philosophy on monetization: if we are going to monetize Neon Dystopia, it has to be in support of building a cyberpunk community and not at that community’s expense. We don’t want to turn our readers into a product. This means we don’t want to implement invasive ads that track you across the web, like so many other sites do. This takes away from the site aesthetically but also flies in the face of the punk ideology that is ad-averse. We’ve implemented Amazon Associates on the site, although we acknowledge this supports a megacorporation and that the community may also have qualms about this. We decided to go forward with this strategy because we know that most people now utilize Amazon for a great deal of their media purchases anyway, and we thought we would provide people a way to support Neon Dystopia in a non-invasive fashion if they were going to use Amazon anyway. This doesn’t bring in much revenue, but a little is better than nothing. We do have a store, and we have and want to continue to use this as a vehicle for supporting cyberpunk artists in the community. The store has brought in some revenue, but from the perspective of upkeep, worked hours, and endeavors for growth, the shop falls short of supporting the site financially. Everything else is out of pocket, paid for by my day job.
This brings me to the last month. I had to take a long look at Neon Dystopia and decide its future direction. I have decided that because no matter what course I took, I would end up writing about cyberpunk and engaging the community, and I see no better way to continue to do that than to augment Neon Dystopia and to elevate it.
Where do we go from here?
This means that I need to pull out all the stops and really push the site to what I have always intended it to become: a strong cyberpunk resource and community. To this end, I have hired a developer to implement the many features and ideas that I have had mulling around in my head for the last few years. This is likely to be a slow, expensive process, but the first major addition to the site that I wanted to add was a social component that would allow Neon Dystopia’s community to interact with each other outside of the regular social media channels and in a dedicated environment. You can visit our test site to see how this endeavor is coming.
I’d like to encourage the Neon Dystopia readership and cyberpunk community to visit this site and provide feedback on what you like, don’t like or would like to see. Neon Dystopia is for all of you, as much as it is for me. If you’d like to support us financially in this project, you can do so on our donation page here, or purchase something in our store. If you can’t contribute financially, then I encourage you to engage in the conversations on the site, volunteer to become a writer or reach out to me to become a collaborator in another way at firstname.lastname@example.org. I have grand plans for the future, including improving our databases, a larger focus on cyberpunk fashion and subculture, publishing short fiction (not yet, but it is coming), new cyberpunk resources, a podcast, an active YouTube channel (probably the furthest off) and collaboration with cyberpunk artists of all stripes. Join me for a discussion in the comments about what you’d like to see from Neon Dystopia in the future, because it is going to be bright neon in the darkness, and I want all of you to be part of it.