China trip over, next stop MIX 07

My trip in China just finished. I am safely back home and looking forward to my next trip, next week.

It was a fantastic visit. I was fascinated by the work that MSR Asia is doing and the great number of clever people here. The working environment is great and very stimulating. I will seriously consider spending more time there, if I get the chance.

Everyone worked hard to set the foundations for three very interesting projects: one related to China’s power grid infrastructure (utilizing distributed/high-performance computing for simulation), one related to social networking knowledge discovery (I need to be careful with the use of ‘social’ around government people :-), and the other one  to environmental science (simulation of water pollution).

I had the pleasure of meeting with the head of the Chinese Academy of Sciences Libraries and very clever people from Tsinghua University with whom I will be working closely. Of course, the opportunities for collaboration with the MSRA groups are tremendous. I am really looking forward to interacting with everyone there.

Beijing is a HUGE, polluted city. However, after walking in the neighborhoods for many hours, I got to like it. There is something about the city; I can’t really point a finger to it. Perhaps it’s people’s synchronized exercising in the neighborhood plazas; the group dancing in front of the main football stadium for the 2008 Olympic games; Joshua, the 74-year old gentleman who started learning English (and his English is excellent) 5 years ago so he could be one of the Olympic games volunteers and who gave me his phone number so that next time I visit he can teach me how to dance; the many street markets; the hospitality and politeness of the people; the crazy driving (!!!, albeit not as crazy as India or Peru :-); the huge history (unfortunately my Friday meetings overrun and so I arrived at the gates of the Forbidden city just after the ticket counter closed); the booming economy. I don’t know. Perhaps everything together. I am looking forward to my next visit and also to getting out of the city and to the rural (real) China.

I also had the great pleasure of going out for dinner with ThoughtWork‘s director here in China, Xiao. Very clever guy! I really enjoyed the food, which included worms :-)

Next Saturday I am off to Las Vegas for MIX 07. Oh man. I am looking forward to so many great announcements. Silverlight looks awesome but it’s only part of a huge story.