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Katherine Shonfield

Out of last week's dramatic events in Serbia came an enduring lesson on how we get things wrong.

The rock singer Gil Scot Heron's 1970s classic declared with authority thatThe Revolution will not be Televised .

Despite this, live coverage on some channels showed a revolution with a substantial part of the country's population in attendance, as it happened.

Who, we might ask, needs the Olympics when every one of the half million people storming the Belgrade parliament got a never-to-be-forgotten medal?

Yet another piece of depressing received wisdom, that modern technology spells the end of mass action in the real - as opposed to the virtual - world.

Without TV, the Internet and mobile phones, how could the show of popular force have happened with the required swiftness to make a formidable military down tools and call it a day?

There exists an entire generation of architecture students weaned on the theories of an arch misery-guts, namely one Jean Baudrillard. In his view the development of technology inexorably produces a passive, brainwashed worldwide audience, immobilised in the privacy of their own womb-like worlds of numbing banality. The frustrating incapacity of students to design actual buildings can be put down in large measure to the depressing effects of this view of the future.

Wrong again.

A distasteful, if flippant, sideeffect of the NATO bombing of Serbia was the comment among British architects that here was a future work opportunity. Wrong once more. Leaving aside the style, panache and marked technical ability of architectural Serbs, the organisational capacity of any population who can mobilise themselves like that indicates that the other nations of Europe might look to their professional laurels.

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