The iron grip of the pandemic continues to hold the world by the scruff of its neck. People are starved for social contacts, for social life, for culture. No wonder that the year was marked by the subliminal urge to escape from the dreary reality. It is symbolic that at the end of the year the sequel to Plato's cave parable, unexpected by everyone, is coming to the cinema: Matrix Resurrections. The first film in the series (actually still worth seeing) took us into a dystopia in which everything people think they experience is merely a computer simulation. From today's perspective, this dystopia seems to have become almost a utopia. Unfortunately, it remains to be said that VR applications in real reality are still miles away from the possibilities of the Matrix. So who should be surprised that those who can afford it try to escape this reality in a completely analogue way? Those with the necessary change in their wallets treated themselves to a short trip into the planet's orbit – but even this (for the rest of humanity rather dubious) pleasure lasted only a short time, even the richest of the rich had to go back in the end.
The year 2021, like much of its predecessor, was characterised by online conferencing – at least a partial virtualisation of reality. Not only for the working world, but also for private individuals, especially families, this results in a number of advantages and opportunities (see my column "Professional families thanks to MS Teams"). Entf's standard recording of family celebrations and events, with all its branches and ramifications, has continued to inspire me. The volumes of data generated by recorded weddings, birthdays, school plays, graduation ceremonies, family gossip, but also stimulating debates over a fine glass of Château Le Moulin about society, philosophy or the fine arts, multiplied as swiftly as grains of rice on the Sultan's chessboard.
Thanks to the cloud (reference to the literary masterpiece "Through the Cloud to the Stars"), storing the masses of data accessible to all family members is no problem. But how are you supposed to watch all that? "ENTFlix" makes it possible! The streaming service I set up myself exclusively for family members not only sorts the mass of videos into relevant categories. It also helps thanks to carefully composed algorithms (by the way, I recommend the following reading on this topic: The (Algo-)rhythm of the Unconscious Part 1 & Part 2) every von Entf can quickly find the recordings that really interest them. Aunt Ottilie loves the grandnieces' dubious attempts to intonate Christmas carols on the recorder. Hence, the Easter performance of the middle school choir with nephew Wendelin is sure to please her. Grandma Trude can watch the most moving moments of the family weddings over and over again. And the good Strigalt, as the algorithm has quickly understood, doesn't even need to be bothered with the latest family rumours about who had what injected, in which beds cousin Gernot is said to prowl at night, and which diet has once again had an unintended effect on which sister. But where the more intellectual members of the von Entfs debate the big issues of life, the good Strigalt will be happy to enjoy the recording.
Aunt Ottilie loves the grandnieces' dubious attempts to intonate Christmas carols on the recorder. Hence, the Easter performance of the middle school choir with nephew Wendelin is sure to please her.
I also had to escape reality a little when I made a small faux pas. My nephew Kasimir is a car fanatic. But unfortunately, against all expectations, he ignored the remote-controlled model that Uncle Strigalt gave him for his birthday, as if it were a warning from Cassandra (this sad episode inspired me to create the revolutionary gift app). Well, the electronically controlled realisation of the legendary Rolls Royce Silver Ghost was too pretty to simply gather dust on the shelf. But where there's a Strigalt, there's a way: what you can control electronically, you can also control automatically. What Google has been researching for years, I managed – with all due modesty – to achieve in two weekends: the autonomously driving car (I have dealt with this topic intensively). Since then, the timeless classic has been driving itself through my sister's house – unfortunately still ignored by Kasimir.
This may all sound quite cheerful, but a recollection of the past year clearly shows how difficult some things have been. Technically and psychologically interesting, but humanly depressing, the following incident may seem: At the beginning of last year – the Corona caution was particularly high, the were contacts few – I often didn't know what to do with myself. Even the most interesting book is read at some point, the record collection is listened through, conversation partners of flesh and blood are missing. The only companion, it seemed at times, was the busy vacuum cleaner robot that flitted between my feet every day. What comes next, dear fellow prisoners of the overall pandemic situation, seems extremely irritating to myself retrospectively, but at the time, and I swear it happened exactly the same way, it seemed like the most natural thing. Driven by investigative curiosity, I wanted to know whether the little robot, certainly equipped with some kind of learning ability, was capable of learning little tricks. So I analysed the software to see how the lively vacuum cleaner perceives successes and used this knowledge to make it move in circles and figure eights, climb a small ramp on command or learn the basic rumba step (amazing what machines can learn).
Driven by investigative curiosity, I wanted to know whether the little robot, certainly equipped with some kind of learning ability, was capable of learning little tricks.
If I now begin to reminisce, I could cite so many things despite the strangeness of this year 2021: My column about NFTs, which was sold as an NFT by unscrupulous digital pirates without my knowledge, my perhaps not entirely successful attempt to regulate the quantity and, above all, the quality of the guests at my birthday by means of sophisticated captchas in the invitation (my philosophical treatise on this topic can be found here), or the attempt to use the column AI deepgalt for personalised Christmas cards (Aunt Josefine, at this point I would like to apologise once again. The observation that the extra 15 kilos you gained last year look great on you was indeed unfortunately put).
However, this review of the year is similar to 2021: perhaps it is good if it slowly comes to an end. I wish you, esteemed year-enders, a conciliatory end and hopefully a good and healthy 2022. Do you have any resolutions? Speaking of which: There may be some innovations coming up at the "Feull-IT-ong". What? Well, I don't want to reveal that yet. Stay tuned!
Your Strigalt von Entf
*Our "Feuill-IT-ong" format is created in collaboration with the two freelance writers Tobias Lauterbach und Daniel Al-Kabbani who occasionally contribute to the satire platform "Der Postillon". Under the pseudonym Strigalt von Entf, they report on current events from the world of technology – always with a wink! ;-)