Originally posted on TED Blog:

In 2005, at the start of my first visit to Shanghai, the city clothed itself in a growling thunderstorm. When dusk fell and neon began to score the sky, the city was more Blade Runner-y than I thought a real place possible to be. I remember diving into a luxe spa for a post-train massage, slipping, mildly terrified, into an urgent slumber, if that’s not a contradiction, as rain clattered the roof.

Shanghai will do that to you: the intensity, the thrill, the—um—overwriting. It’s a sensation David Li knows well. He was born in Taiwan, studied computer science at USC, and worked as a programmer in Los Angeles during what he remembers as “the good old fun days” before the dotcom bubble burst. In 2003, after 13 years in the US, he headed to Shanghai. More than anywhere else he’d found, the city “captured the energy of the dotcom…

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