Information politics: The story of an emerging metadata standard


  • Joan Starr



This is the story of how one commercial metadata standard ? XBRL, or Extensible Business Reporting Language ? has attracted the participation and support of some of the worldos most powerful public and private organizations. It begins with a look at the nature and use of financial information in today's Internet-enabled environment and discusses three information use patterns: Transaction, retrieval, and reporting. While numerous, sometimes competing standards have been developed for transaction information, XBRL alone has emerged to address reporting formats. Today, the XBRL specification has wide support across the accounting, financial, and regulatory communities. This has come about largely through the efforts of the standardso governing board, which has pursued a strategy of careful definition of market scope, deliberate courtship of important allies, and establishment of a culture of aggressive outreach for members. The results are impressive. Members of the organization are now positioned to take greatest advantage of a number of new entrepreneurial opportunities that have been created by the organization. Additionally, some participants are now representing the XBRL metadata standard as a key tool for the restoration of public confidence in the scandal-rocked accounting and investment industries. This may create a serious problem for researchers and investors as unaudited financial statements formatted in XBRL proliferate on the Web sites of corporations anxious to demonstrate a commitment to what some are calling "the new transparency."




How to Cite

Starr, J. (2003). Information politics: The story of an emerging metadata standard. First Monday, 8(7).