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“Contagion” and Innovation

My wife and I saw “Contagion” on Saturday night. Basically a very decent thriller with a satisfying bevy of villains human and viral.

The film is essentially about touching (or not touching, as the case may be). A touch can kill, and does multiple times.  But a human touch can also save, as it does, multiple times.

The film is also, unabashedly, pro-science, science as the condition of innovation. The virus is unbeatable with hysteria, troops, greedy bloggers, and even that mainstay of American media life today, feelings, no matter how strong. The only thing that beats the virus is patient, skeptical questions and answers about where the virus comes from, how it spreads, what it looks like, and how to boost the immune system against it. You need courage, too, but courage has to be guided by reason.

This is science, which comes in for an awful beating in our political life nowadays. And there’s a lot of “folks” (as we call people we want to speak for) who think we can have innovation without skepticism. It doesn’t happen, in or out of the movies.

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About the author

an Gordon is Research Director for Valhalla Partners, a Northern Virginia venture capital firm. Dan has twenty-eight years experience working with technology, as a computer scientist, software developer, manager, analyst, and entrepreneur. Prior to joining Valhalla Partners, Dan was a Director and senior staff member at the PricewaterhouseCoopers Global Technology Centre, analyzing technology trends and consulting on technology-oriented strategies in the software, e-business, wireless, optical, networking, semiconductor IP, and life sciences arenas. He worked with clients from North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Australia. Dan was a Contributing Writer and Contributing Editor to the Technology Centre’s annual Technology Forecast, and a frequent speaker at industry and general business meetings. Before joining PwC, Dan spent 20 years in Silicon Valley as a software technologist, manager, director, and entrepreneur, including senior technical roles at well-known Silicon Valley firms like Symantec, Intuit, and Oracle. Dan has also been involved in startup companies in the applied Artificial Intelligence and Web applications fields. Dan has a B.A. (cum laude) from Harvard University and an M.S. from New York University in Computer Science. He is a Professional Member of the IEEE and ACM. Dan lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife and two children.