On Wednesday Jan. 18th I’ll be at Adobe in San Jose talking at the XBRL Meeting. XBRL is about something that I’ve long felt is important: standardizing financial reporting. I’ve struggled a whole lot over the years with accounting principles and financial reporting, which are generally speaking a snake-pit. Those of us who’ve dealt with this stuff were less surprised by Enron and friends, because “Generally Accepted Accounting Principles” have historically included lots of latitude for egregious lies. The best answer is transparency, give intelligent investors enough information and they’ll sniff out the bad guys. Getting from the mess we’re now in to complete transparency has two essential steps: first of all, the regulators have to make Generally Accepted Accounting Lies punishable with lots of jail time. Secondly, we need technical infrastructure so we can build some standardized tools to do financial analysis; these exist today, but require a whole lot of hand-tweaking to weed through the GAAP-approved hand-waving and make one company’s numbers comparable to another’s. XBRL isn’t the solution, but’s an important piece of the puzzle, and if there’s anything I can do to help, I’m there.