“Contagion” the movie
If you haven’t watched the movie, you probably should. Quite a few relevant points to our class and lecture note on infection models:
First of all, you see Kate Winslet wrote down R0 and explaining this ‘basic reproduction number’. We used sigma to denote this (strictly speaking, R0 and sigma are slightly different, but doesn’t matter for our models). You also see Marion Cotillard drawing a graph (the only network visualized on paper in this movie).
Second, you see the many dimensions of infection spreading over different networks in parallel, with different speeds and impact:
A. Disease network
B. Social network
C. Information network and fear spreading
You also see the social aftermath. See also Saramago’s famous novel “Blindness” depicting another epidemic.
You see the issue of robustness and fragility of these networks.
You see the issue of fairness in each step of the way.
In case you think this is all made-up, in 2003, SARS outbreak in Asia got pretty close to what the movie showed. There were healthcare workers in Hong Kong who stayed in their jobs even when that implies a significant chance of getting killed. There was the rippling impact of the Chinese government hiding information about the initial outbreak in southern China (we all saw the importance of initial stage of disease spreading). There was the race against the clock to invent vaccine.
What wasn’t there in 2003 is web 2.0. It can help. It can hurt. It’s known for years that Google search trends can help CDC and WHO predict disease spreading, and certainly information spreading. The question is how can you use web 2.0 to help spread information but not rumor. How do you use wisdom of crowds to detect spread of disease and of rumor. Maybe someone in class can do a mini project related to all this.