I was reading a chapter from The Element this evening that reminded me of The Medici Effect.
ACM Ubiquity had an interview with Frans Johansson, author of The Medici Effect, around the time the book came out. The title comes from the idea that it takes more than just genius to create a Leonardo da Vinci. It also takes the community of a Renaissance Florence, made possible by patrons like the Medici family.
I thought it was a great premise for a book and bought the book shortly after reading the interview. Unfortunately, the book didn’t live up to my expectations. I recommend the interview, but I’m not as enthusiastic in my recommendation of the book.
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2 thoughts on “The Medici Effect”
My Dad has written a book which addresses factors influencing whether (and how quickly) new inventions become economically important. http://tinyurl.com/o5w8jg
One of the factors he cites is of course financial patronage, usually in the form of governmental support. No matter how paradigm-changing a new technology turns out to be, there’s going to be a period of development where the technology simply can’t generate a profit. If there’s no one willing to make the long-term high-risk investment in development, the technology doesn’t make it.
This reminds me of the process of transferring medical technology from clinical trials to clinical practice. It is typical that the results seen in clinical practice are not as great as those seen in clinical trials. There are a number of reasons why this might happen, and currently I think it may be partly due to compliance with the protocol. When you think about it this is similar to adopting a new invention or innovation. Even patrons could have an effect; celebrity advocacy comes to mind.
Regarding the Medicis, if my recollection is correct they were also important patrons of Galileo. In a treatise he wrote describing the moons of Jupiter, which he had recently discovered with his telescope, he included a preface giving effusive thanks to the Medicis. He really laid it on thick. He even went so far as to name the moons (which he called stars) after the Medicis. I don’t know why the nomenclature didn’t stick, but if it had, it might be the only thing commonly known about them.