“reflects the technological transformation of the world’s markets”

In last weeks’ SundayBusiness section of the NYT, Nathaniel Popper explored the implications of the purchase by IntercontinentalExchange (headed by chief executive Jeffrey Sprecher) of the New York Stock Exchange.

I  couldn’t help but think of it as perfect example of contemporary network culture and the New Aesthetic of algorithmic machines. For instance we read:

Does it really matter who owns the New York Stock Exchange and its parent company, NYSE Euronext? For most people, stock exchanges are probably a bit like plumbing. Most of us don’t think much about them — until something goes wrong. But lately, some things have gone spectacularly wrong…One sign of trouble came in 2010, when an errant trade ricocheted through computer networks and touched off one of the most harrowing moments in stock market history. The Dow Jones industrial average plunged 900 points in a matter of minutes, and a new phrase entered the lexicon: flash crash…Since then, flash crashes in individual stocks have been remarkably common, as the centuries-old system of central exchanges has given way to a field of competing electronic systems…ICE wasn’t involved in any of these problems. In fact, it has been praised as one of the first exchanges to put limits on lightning-quick, high-frequency trading“.

Below a comparison of the two entities, architectural or physical manifestion/presence.

Credit: Rich Addicks for The New York Times

IntercontinentalExchange is based on a few floors of a suburban Atlanta office building, a sharp contrast to the colonnaded temple of the N.Y.S.E Credit: Rich Addicks for The New York Times

The contrast with the New York Stock Exchange is striking. Behind its neoclassical face, the Big Board is a sprawling labyrinth of historic oil paintings, gilded leather chairs, stained wood and elegant dining rooms — all set amid crowds of gawking tourists…ICE, meanwhile, occupies a few floors of an anodyne black-glass cube surrounded by trees and parking lots. The employees share their cafeteria with the building’s other tenants. The walls are lined with dry-erase boards“.

The New York Stock Exchange, photographed on January 12, 2002.Photographed by Luigi Novi

The New York Stock Exchange, photographed on January 12, 2002.
Photographed by Luigi Novi

An interesting side-note is the fact that Jeffrey Sprecher was featured in a recent (Jan 12th 2013) edition of the Download column in the SundayReview NYT section, wherein he updated  readers as to what he was: Reading, Listening, Watching, Following and Purchasing. At that time he was still awaiting regulatory approval to acquire the New York Stock Exchange.

A quote: “I have an affinity toward street artists who are provocateurs and can capture the essence of a controversial topic in a single image“.

Additionally, he notes for Download, that re: the three websites he regularly reads (about watches on watchprosite.com; Porsches on rennlist.org; wines on cellartracker.com), “All three sites delve into the complicated nuances of seemingly simple objects and appeal to the side of me that is an engineer“.


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