Chris Keller

Looking back at 2011 and wondering how I got to this place, cause that journey

For the first time in my nine years with Lee Enterprises my annual review falls inside the tidy boudaries of the calendar year. This means I finally stand a decent chance of escaping the Pavlovian responses to August and September, and find my sense of a “new beginning” coming when the calendar flips to January.

So, as I look back at my first year with madison.com (ok, 11 months) it’s difficult to separate some of the personal goals I had for 2011 from my professional goals. And maybe because on the whole, I’m left feeling that while I “scored” very well in achieving what I wanted to personally, my “scores” lacked quite a bit – by my standards – in the professional arena.

Still, there are inklings and hints as the calendar flips to 2012, that the two areas may once again start blending together.

So, what did I set out to accomplish for myself in 2011? How did I score?

  • Write a javascript function from scratch – ok maybe using google – to create something other than an alert box.
  • Be able to play guitar and sing “Long Road,” “Heart of Gold,” or “Gloria” at the same time in a voice that I can be proud of.
  • Earn one freelance gig redesigning someone’s wordpress site.
  • Write something once a week. Anything.
  • Do something will all my old writing.
  • Quit smoking…while I am at the office. Outside the office will come in 2012.
  • Record one spoken word piece.

Of these, it feels really good to know that I can bascially cross everything off my list except for playing guitar and singing at the same time – my neighbors are probably very happy that this didn’t happen – and recording a spoken-word piece.

But I quit smoking straight up -- well, save for a few here and there at certain times and in certain places, and though I didn’t do much with my old writing, but I stared at it enough to know what is there and what might be possible, and I combined some of that with my want to learn more javascript to create a short story presentation.

And I don’t know if I wrote something each week, but I think I came close thanks to some opportunities – unforeseen when setting goals in January – that came my way and opened so many other doors and allowed me to accomplish other goals.

For instance, I don’t think it’s a stretch to think that a single tweet from a Lee Enterprises colleague sent me off into a world of Google Fusion Tables and Google Maps API, which provided my a reason to learn javascript and allowed me to learn from John Keefe and others, and turned me onto to the power of tweeting shop with a host or really smart journo-techs, and left me wanting to foster a similar discussion within Lee Enterprises, so I got a company blog to share what I had been learning, and then found out about a little meetup in Chicago where folks would be brainstorming ideas for a project call the Knight-Mozilla MoJo Innovation Challenge, and so I submitted an idea – one of more than 300 that were submitted – and it was selected to be part of a learning lab with 59 other people, and so I submitted a final project for the lab, and that got selected for the next phase which took me to Europe for the first time where I met so many wonderful people that have shaped my thinking about journalism and the web for the better part of six months now, and so I have sought out ways to share that thinking with Communication students at the university I attended -- and as byproduct learned that I'm 12 credits short of an associate's degree, or three total semesters short of getting that elusive four-year degree -- or through fostering a discussion with Lee Enterprises colleages.

And if reading that paragraph felt a bit disorienting, living it was a bit more so. Trust me.

So what does 2012 hold? What do I want to accomplish? I aim to write that up later this week, after I finish my performance review. But I’m left feeling the list might include things that you can't link to on the internet. Character traits seldom have web pages.