Everything used to be better, at least in a Hamburg news magazine. In an environment where every bad news is good news, reporter Guido Mingels wrote weekly about what used to be worse. There were sentences like: "In absolute numbers, the seventies in particular were a veritable massacre on the motorways and country roads." Or Mingels calculated that in 1800 you still had to work 50 hours for one hour of light, today it is one second, and then he didn't even know the LED.

Johannes Winterhagen

Editor in the business department, technology and engine department

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Now progress is a snail, and anyone who has ever organised a snail race as a child – which is now presumably banned by nature conservation authorities – also knows that the belly-footed rarely finds its way to the finish line in a straight line. But this week, the Federal Chancellor and the Minister-Presidents have laid a trail, called the Germany Pact, which has only one thing in common with the Deutschlandtakt that it is likely to take a little while to implement it. It's actually about getting from plan to reality faster.

The whole of Germany is to flourish in this way, wind turbines everywhere, rail to the front door, or at least fiber optics, and astonishingly, even software for administration is to be developed only once and then allowed to be used in all states and municipalities. "One for all" is what Hessian Prime Minister Boris Rhein calls the principle, which is not usually his style.

We don't want to spoil the game, but we do want to point out the general unpredictability of the future. Setbacks cannot be ruled out, some end up in the scrapyard of the history of ideas, some lay the foundation for future successes despite a lack of acceptance. Remember the Apple Newton? It was a kind of smart-without-phone, on the black-and-white display you could keep an electronic calendar and write notes, even by hand. In 1998, Steve Jobs abandoned the project due to complete lack of success, then in 2007 the iPhone came along, without any pact, by the way, and it conquered our lives in one swipe.