A view from Shanghai

I am on a long planned trip to China. I was invited to give one of three keynote addresses at the IEEE International Conference on Computer Science and Education, in Nanning, China. My keynote is entitled “The Arts as a Driver for Computer Science Education,” a topic I deal with everyday in our AVATAR Initiative. As part of this trip, I decided to stop in Shanghai along the way, and Beijing on the way back.

Shanghai is an amazing city of contradictions and dichotomies. Old versus new. History versus modernity. Rich versus poor. And with the Shanghai World Expo next summer, construction is everywhere, from new roads to renovated buildings, to new skyscrapers, to new public works of all kinds. The entire Bund section is being revamped, making driving and walking even more insane that apparently normal.

I say apparently because from my limited experience in Shanghai’s taxi system, driving in this town is normally insane. Being a pedestrian is anything but. It reminds me of walking in Paris, and trying to dodge cars as they cavalierly made right turns across crosswalks. I always felt like I was in a bull-fighting ring when walking in Paris, with cars trying to get as close as possible to pedestrians without hitting them. Shanghai reminds me of the old video game Frogger, where there is just utter chaos. Bikes, cars, walkers, all moving about the streets seemingly without a care for what the others are doing.

The weather has been muggy, cloudy, rainy, sweaty, dusty and smokey. The latter two I attribute to all the construction and the general air pollution from an urban city. Otherwise its just like home, except MUCH more crowded. There are really beautiful places (Jing’an park and temple, Yu Gardens). And I have enjoyed the food (mostly).

Now its time to pack up and head to Nanning. The presentation is done. I might spend some more time looking for better images to use. But I think I’m ready to go.


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