China and the Swarm

China. In a word: wow. I was only there a week, but I feel like my brain swelled with information and experience. It was stimulating from the word go – from my first ride to the airport to my last. I had a fairly empty slate going in, I really wasn’t sure quite what to expect. I came away knowing just a little more, but with amazing expectations for what is yet to come.

China is amazing in many ways to me. For one thing, it’s an incredibly pedestrian society. It’s lightweight and limber at the lowest levels. Buildings are literally flying up all around Shanghai, and yet you see the bricks arrive on site via handcart and bicycle basket. I can’t imagine the amount of goods in China that are hauled around by individuals rather than machines. Is that inefficient, or the product of a behind society? I don’t think so. I think it’s amazingly limber and responsive. The West is in the process of trying to discover or re-discover the swarm. China is the swarm.

China is tenacious and the pace of growth is unbelievable. While geotagging photos in flickr, I had trouble finding locations because where I visited a mall or a skatepark (note the construction in the background), the flickr map shows an empty field. Peeking out the window in Shanghai, you see yesterday’s thoughts being erected all around you. I’m sure if and when I go back, it will be even bigger, more amazing, and more modern that it was last week – even if I’m back next week. It’s an unbelievable pace and a place that is constantly re-inventing itself.

In Shanghai you don’t exactly buy the place you live – you purchase a 70-year lease that cannot be handed down to your heirs. So if your kids want to live where they grew up, they need to re-buy it when the lease it up. But don’t worry, say the locals, by that time they will have knocked it down and built something altogther new. Is there permance in Shanghai?

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3 Responses to “China and the Swarm”


  1. 1 Sandy Kemsley 6 September 2006 at 9:55 am

    Great photos!

    Any chance of getting the full post feeds back?

  2. 2 scott 6 September 2006 at 10:07 am

    Sandy – thanks for the comment – I hope you check out the rest of the photos on flickr, and comment there, too!

    I just noticed the partial feeds in Bloglines, and don’t know what’s going on – I didn’t change that intentionally. I actually hate that, and am very in favor of full post syndication. It looks like a Blogger issue (I have it set to Full in my Settings), I will look into that…

    Scott

  3. 3 Philip Hartman 6 September 2006 at 7:28 pm

    I had a similar reaction to my trip to Bangalore, India a couple of years ago. I think this kind of first hand view of another country and culture is really beneficial to the practice of I/T architecture. I hope I get to China myself sometime soon.


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