Accurate, Focused Research on Law, Technology and Knowledge Discovery Since 2002

Daily Archives: January 25, 2021

A 2011 dictionary is reshaping the language of corporate reporting

Quartz – “A new corporate principle is: Never say you’re restating anything. The machines will hold it against you. Over the past decade, “restatement” is the word companies have most strenuously tried to avoid in the text of their filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to an upcoming paper by academics at Georgia State University’s J. Mack Robinson College of Business and Columbia Business School. The evasion is a response to the army of bots that investors routinely deploy to catch any whiff of implicit market intelligence. The bots flag “restatement” as a negative word, which darkens their outlook on a company’s prospects. The paper, which builds on an earlier version released last October by the National Bureau of Economic Research, analyzes nearly 360,000 10-K and 10-Q documents filed with the SEC between 2003 and 2016. It shows how companies are trying to phase out words that, like “restatement,” are judged to have negative connotations by financial analysis algorithms. “Corporate disclosures and reporting have been reshaped by machine readership,” Baozhang Yang, one of the paper’s authors, said. The dog-eat-dog nature of markets has always tended to favor those with an extra sliver of information. When everyone has access to the same, structured sources of data—published reports, earnings figures, profit-and-loss statements—the appetite for alternative data, of even the least merit, can turn very keen. Sometimes analysts and investors try to latch on to such alternative data using their own intuition. Nils Paellmann, a former vice-president for investor relations at T-Mobile, recalled how, on one earnings call, the company’s CEO—known for cursing freely and often—was far less profane than usual. “I got a lot of calls from investors, asking: ‘What’s wrong? Why wasn’t he his usual self? Is he less confident about the company’s outlook?’” But the real thrust has come with the advance of automation. In the past decade, the channels of obtaining alternative data have grown, as has the raw computing power to crunch and weigh such data. Within the industry, practitioners tell wild stories—of trading equities by using satellites to count cars in parking lots, as a proxy for economic activity; or of planting an infrared camera outside a Tesla plant, to determine how busy it was at night and therefore how full its order book was. Some of this is what one expert calls “innovation theater,” but investors also glean genuine value out several of these strategies…”

Pandemic Bar Exams Left Many Aspiring Lawyers Behind

Deborah Jones Merritt et al., Pandemic Bar Exams Lef Many Aspiring Lawyers Behind, Bloomberg Law (Jan. 6, 2021) – “A disorganized response by bar examiners to the Covid-19 pandemic disadvantaged many prospective bar exam takers this year, say four members of the Collaboratory on Legal Education and Licensing for Practice. The 2020 process reduced the… Continue Reading

Law Enforcement Statutory Database

National Conference of State Legislatures: announcement – “Legislative interest in policing and police accountability is currently at an unprecedented high. Deaths and other confrontations involving law enforcement continue to drive national conversations about policy and promote review of current state and local laws. From May 25, 2020 through the end of 2020, 36 states and Washington… Continue Reading

Please Stop Calling Things Archives

Perspectives on History: “Various disciplinary “archival turns” over the course of the past few decades have resulted in a tendency towards the over-casual use of the word “archive” as a shorthand to refer to, well, just about anything. While historians are not the most egregious of offenders, this exasperating tendency has led to an increasing… Continue Reading

Google Search and Maps will soon show vaccination sites with important details

Google Blog: “…Highlighting authoritative information and local vaccination sites on Search & Maps – To help find accurate and timely information on vaccines, we’ve expanded our information panels on Search to more than 40 countries and dozens of languages, with more rolling out in the coming week. We’ll begin showing state and regional distribution information… Continue Reading

Crowdsourced maps will show exactly where surveillance cameras are watching

Fast Company – “Amnesty International is producing a map of all the places in New York City where surveillance cameras are scanning residents’ faces. The project will enlist volunteers to use their smartphones to identify, photograph, and locate government-owned surveillance cameras capable of shooting video that could be matched against people’s faces in a database… Continue Reading

Trust in federal government increases following President Biden’s inauguration

Axios-Ipsos poll: Nearly half of Americans intend to get the vaccine as soon as it’s available to them: “In the latest installment of the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index 61% percent of Americans report they are likely to get the first generation COVID-19 vaccine, up 1 point from last week. This week, more Americans say they plan… Continue Reading

Report – Capitol Storming: Neo-Nazi, QAnon and Antisemitic Online Chatter

“The American Jewish Congress released a special report entitled “Capitol Storming: Neo-Nazi, QAnon and Antisemitic Online Chatter.” This report is part of an American Jewish Congress initiative to combat domestic terrorism, especially that which stems from white supremacist activity and Antisemitic extremism. This report provides in-depth analysis of the online chatter that took place in… Continue Reading

Got a weird text about a package delivery? It could be a scam.

Vox: “The coronavirus pandemic has produced a ripe environment for text message phishing attacks. Such scams are socially engineered to exploit people’s vulnerable impulses, experts say, and sharply rose in 2020. Many Americans sign up for text message notifications and reminders, from health care providers to shipping services, but as SMS phishing becomes more widespread,… Continue Reading