Goodbye 15 minutes: 1.5 seconds is the new real time

As cited on Slashdot, Google has announced that they’ll be providing real-time stock quotes from NASDAQ. As referred to in the title, this “real time” isn’t likely the same “real time” that financial institutions get for their “quotes,” since they still need to process the data and serve it up to you somehow. But for an old internet codger who thought quotes delayed by 15 minutes back in 1995 was pretty nifty, this is just one more sign of the information apocalypse.


The Wall Street Journal is also in on the gig, and Allen Wastler from CNBC crows that they’re also a player. Interestingly, the data will be free from the WSJ at their Markets Data Center page—one more sign of a Journal that’s continuing to open up its grand Oak doors to give us plebes a peek inside their exclusive club.

An earlier post from the Google blog has some interesting details:

As a result, we’ve worked with the SEC, the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and our D.C. trade association, NetCoalition, to find a way to bring stock data to Google users in a way that benefits users and is practical for all parties. We have encouraged the SEC to ensure that this data can be made available to our users at fair and reasonable rates, and applaud their recent efforts to review this issue. Today, the NYSE has moved the issue a great step forward with a proposal to the SEC which if approved, would allow you to see real-time, last-sale prices…

The NYSE hasn’t come around yet, but the move by NASDAQ should give them the additional competitive push to make it happen soon enough. As it appears, this had more to do with getting SEC approval than the exchanges themselves. Which, if you think about it, makes sense—and if you think about it more, makes one wonder what sort of market-crashing scenario might be opened by millions having access to the live data. Time to write that movie script.

At right: CNBC’s publicity photo of Allen Wastler, which appears to have been shot in the 1930s and later hand-colorized. Upon seeing this, Wastler was then heard to say to the photo and paste-up people, “That’s amazing, can you also give me a stogie?” Who doesn’t want that coveted fat cat, robber baron blogger look.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008 | acquire  

Visualizing Data Book CoverVisualizing Data is my book about computational information design. It covers the path from raw data to how we understand it, detailing how to begin with a set of numbers and produce images or software that lets you view and interact with information. Unlike nearly all books in this field, it is a hands-on guide intended for people who want to learn how to actually build a data visualization.

The text was published by O’Reilly in December 2007 and can be found at Amazon and elsewhere. Amazon also has an edition for the Kindle, for people who aren’t into the dead tree thing. (Proceeds from Amazon links found on this page are used to pay my web hosting bill.)

Examples for the book can be found here.

The book covers ideas found in my Ph.D. dissertation, which is basis for Chapter 1. The next chapter is an extremely brief introduction to Processing, which is used for the examples. Next is (chapter 3) is a simple mapping project to place data points on a map of the United States. Of course, the idea is not that lots of people want to visualize data for each of 50 states. Instead, it’s a jumping off point for learning how to lay out data spatially.

The chapters that follow cover six more projects, such as salary vs. performance (Chapter 5), zipdecode (Chapter 6), followed by more advanced topics dealing with trees, treemaps, hierarchies, and recursion (Chapter 7), plus graphs and networks (Chapter 8).

This site is used for follow-up code and writing about related topics.