Freeing and Visualizing Financial Data

Development, Government 2.0
Location: 1A14 Level:
Average rating: **...
(2.50, 2 ratings)

In contrast to a number of fields which were quick to embrace the web as a method of data sharing, finance has stubbornly remained very closed and proprietary. Sites like Yahoo! Finance have long allowed individuals to research potential investments but those who wanted machine-readable data have been stuck with expensive subscriptions and restrictive licensing. This locks out hackers and tinkerers, which has lead to a lack of truly novel ways to interact with and visualize this data. Where visualizations around politics, geography and criminal activity have seen amazing advances in the past few years, most finance charts look the same as they did 20 years ago.

However, over the next couple of years, the SEC is requiring companies to begin filing financial statements in an XML-based format called XBRL. This, combined with community efforts such as Freebase, Freerisk and Wikinvest will soon provide enough freely available financial data that amateurs will be able to experiment and create yet-unimagined ways of thinking about financial data. This will have implications in investing, understanding risk, and particularly in fighting fraud (we have had conversations with the SEC about how they can help hackers do more interesting things with their data).

In this session, we’ll talk a little about data sources and discuss the ways in which the developer community can use machine learning and visualization techniques to explore financial data in novel ways. We’ll explore techniques like multidimensional scaling, network visualization, clustering and variations on traditional charts. We hope to inspire more people to use the data and show how valuable financial data can be once it’s free.

Photo of Toby Segaran

Toby Segaran


Toby Segaran is the author of the O’Reilly title, “Programming Collective Intelligence”, one of Amazon’s top-selling AI book, and a co-founder of His upcoming titles “Programming the Semantic Web” and “Beautiful Data” will be on shelves in July. He frequently speaks on the subjects of machine learning, collective intelligence and freedom of data at conferences worldwide.

He currently holds the title of Data Magnate at Metaweb Technologies, where he works on large-scale data reconciliation problems. Prior to Metaweb he founded Incellico, a biotechnology software company, which was acquired in 2003.

Toby holds a B.Sc in Computer Science from MIT and is deemed a “Person of Exceptional Ability” by the USCIS. He loves applying data-analysis algorithms to everything ranging from pharmaceutical trials to online dating to financial risk models.

Photo of Jesper Andersen

Jesper Andersen

Bloom Studios

Combining a technical background with quantitative business training, Jesper offers expertise in entrepreneurial technology, including data mining, social network analysis, and consumer web services. A 2008 graduate of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, he completed concentrations in entrepreneurship, finance, and econometrics. He currently works with Open Data Group, providing management-consulting data analysis services to Fortune 500 companies; he also provides independent entrepreneurial consulting services for startups. Previously, Jesper served as a summer associate with O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures in 2007. He is also the co-founder of the Chicago Ignite lecture series and has written about business strategy for the O’Reilly Radar blog and industry analysis reports.

Prior to graduate school, Jesper served as the Lead Architect for Visible Path, a Kleiner-Perkins backed social networking analysis startup, which was recently acquired by Hoovers. At Visible Path, Jesper was instrumental in producing patents in social network analysis, as well as hiring development teams for new offices in California and India. He has also worked for Screaming Media where he was responsible for leading technical integration over three M&A transactions.

Jesper has an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, and earned his B.S. in Physics from Haverford College and has published several articles in fluid dynamics and biophysics.

  • IBM
  • Microsoft
  • Awareness
  • Blue Kiwi Software
  • Ericsson Labs
  • Jive Software
  • Layered Technologies, Inc.
  • Neustar, Inc.
  • OpenText
  • Opera Software
  • Overtone
  • Qtask
  • Rackspace Hosting
  • Sony Ericsson

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