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Exploring the implications of change

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The head is round, Picabia once said, in order that thought may change direction. So here are two justifications for having a round head. First is that I want to exempt the RIBA library catalogue from my strictures about the www.architecture.com site. It is one of the best online catalogues in the business. It is flexible and usable - you can even download bits of it. Terrific!

The other change of view is a bit more complicated. It is to do with the fact that ideological positions and computing do not happily mix, as anybody who has tried to install and use Linux is well aware. This second rotation was set off by a sentence in a recent Personal Computer World article: 'Typical web users, at least those who have bothered to try it, have given it the thumbs down because it is slow and less reliable than either Internet Explorer or the old [Netscape] Navigator 4.7.'

'It', of course, is the new Netscape 6, the last gasp of that once dominant browser in the supremacy gamble with the Evil Empire Spawn aka Microsoft Internet Explorer.

I could scarcely believe this pronouncement, not because it was wrong (it certainly wasn't) but because the author went on with pages of quite interesting technical stuff based on the proposition that, unless Internet Explorer has a rival, any old thing could happen to the Universe As We Know It.

That's a bit like saying we should all drive Morris Travellers because it will keep Italian sports car manufacturers up to scratch.

Another reviewer in the monthly . net burbled: 'Don't give up on it forever.

The program has been released prematurely, with lots of bugs and unfinished code. 'Too bloomin' right.

I'm not suggesting you do the same, but I've wiped all trace of Netscape 6 from my network - and me a Netscape user since prehistoric times. My shrink tells me that actually it's a really good idea to give up on programs with lots of bugs and unfinished code.

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