The information represents the total assets of the 5,523 (by my count), to the SEC between 2011-04-01 and 2011-08-19 inclusive, 10-Q and 10-K filings only. Total assets is the total per the filing and may not be the same date for each filer.
The experiment is to see if others can get the same result, or rather agree on the parameters and see if we get the same results.
It took approximately 4 hours for my computer program to go through each of the filings and grab the information. After reading the information, I loaded the information into a database to do the queries.
One interesting observation is that it took my program about 4 hours to run through the full set of filings. To do this by hand I calculate that it would have taken me about 92 hours (about 1 minute per filing, clearly it would have taken more time most likely and would have been an incredibly boring task). Hard to come up with an accurate computation, but I estimate that I saved 96% in the time it took to gather this information.
Frankly, I wonder if anyone has ever been able to do that computation, or would even endeavor to do so. XBRL makes this both easy and possible. It will be interesting to see the many new ways people find to look at this SEC XBRL information set.