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Digital Financial Reporting: It's all about the meta data

I have a new mantra: "The only thing better than meta data is more meta data."

As I mentioned in another post, the book Everything is Miscellaneous explains "the third order of order":

  • First order of order. Putting books on shelves is an example the first order of order.
  • Second order of order. Creating a list of books on the shelves you have is an example of second order of order. This can be done on paper or it can be done in a database.
  • Third order of order. Adding even more information to information is an example of third order of order. Using the book example, classifying books by genre, best sellers, featured books, bargain books, books which one of your friends has read; basically there are countless ways to organize something.

Third order removes the limitations which people seem to assume exist when it comes to organizing information. Weinberger (the author of Everything is Miscellaneous) says this about the third order of order:

In fact, the third-order practices that make a company's existing assets more profitable, increase customer loyalty, and seriously reduce costs are the Trojan horse of the information age. As we all get used to them, third-order practices undermine some of our most deeply ingrained ways of thinking about the world and our knowledge of it.

Basically, I believe that meta data has strategic implications.

Financial reporting has boatloads and boatloads of meta data, far more meta data than is included in the US GAAP Taxonomy.  I have prototyped some of this key meta data here on a wiki I have put together for digital financial reporting.  I have been accumulating this meta data over the years and have built many, many other prototypes to try and figure out how things like RDF/OWL fit into XBRL and into financial reporting.

It seems to me that the FASB and IASB could prove that their conceptual frameworkby articulating it using RDF/OWL, UML or some other modeling language.  Certainly some of that could and should be done using XBRL.  Also, because financial reporting is becoming so complex, using a modeling language can help improve communications.

Shoot! That is all the time I have for now, gotta go create some more meta data.


Posted on Friday, June 24, 2011 at 01:48PM by Registered CommenterCharlie in | CommentsPost a Comment

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