Open Source Research

This topic I posted on earlier took me on a trip down memory lane this morning. A comment to my earlier post took me to this blog in search of a link to William Ackman’s letter to the SEC.

In that letter, Ackman states:

"Our primary goal is to initiate what we call “Open Source Research”
where all market participants can have equal access to the primary
source data and construct their own views of losses without reliance on
the analytical judgment of rating agencies or the bond insurance
industry. By focusing the discussion on a fundamental, data-driven
approach, we expect that the dissemination of the Open Source Model
will enable market participants and regulators to accurately estimate
probable losses by relying on rigorous fundamental analysis of specific
credit exposures, a departure from relying on the opaque, faith-based
pronouncements that the bond insurance industry has promulgated to the
marketplace."

When I read that I recalled that I wrote a post proposing an open source model for research titled Open Source Research back in 2004. I am thrilled that it has become a theme that real market participants are embracing.

One thing Ackman can do to help open source research happen is publish his reports in HTML directly on the web instead of in pdf format. As I said in my post from four years ago,

We need tools for distribution, collaboration, rating, reputation,
commerce (just because its open doesn’t mean it has to be free), and
communication to make this work.  And for the most part, they don’t
exist.

I’ve changed my thinking a bit since then on the "free" question as you can see in this video, but it sure looks like we still need better tools.