Among all the joint tech and accounting initiatives out there XBRL seems to be the one gaining a steady amount of steam towards  making real news and producing real returns for a wide audience. What remains to be seen is who’s actually able to realize real returns out of the technology.

Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Christopher Cox has been a vocal proponent of the technology and yesterday, the agency announced that the contents of the financial statements filed electronically are now searchable via a full-text search tool on the SEC’s Web site. In an age where Google is routinely used as a verb, the announcement is a big deal, if for no other reason than that it’s a triumph of the federal bureaucracy in moving towards change. Each year 15 to 18 million pages of filings are submitted to the SEC by more than 15,000 public companies and other filers. Sifting through that paperwork The newly searchable information includes registration statements, annual and quarterly reports, and other filings by companies and mutual funds filed during the past four years on the SEC’s Edgar database. Cox has been enthusiastically hammering home his talking points about the technology simultaneously liberating investors, researchers, and analysts from the more time-consuming and less reliable chore of accessing information in public filings one by one.

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