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Nerd on the Street

Slideshow: A well qualified nerd's illustrated history of wired markets.

This month, Institutional Investor introduces Nerd on the Street, a back-of-the-book feature inspired by my new book, “Nerds On Wall Street: Math, Machines and Wired Markets” (Wiley 2009). In magazines, “back-of-the-book” is the last inside page before the back cover. Often there is a cartoon or some eye-catching picture. These range from fighter planes to cute baby animals to home-built armored vehicles, depending on whether you are reading “Aviation Week,” “Furry Friends,” or “Soldier of Fortune.”

Funny is good for the back, with not too much to read, since there is plenty of that inside the magazine. It’s much easier find this kind of material for, say, motorcycle magazines than for Institutional Investor, so I was thrilled to provide a few of the pithy, funny, unique visual financial illustrations found in "Nerds On Wall Street."

Looking into the workings of modern securities markets is like looking under the hood of a Prius hybrid car. There are so many complex and obscure parts it's hard to discern what's going on. If you look under the hood of an auto from a simpler era, for example a '64 Mustang, you can see parts and what they do, and have a better chance of understanding their complex modern replacements.

This slideshow of photographs about markets and technology is not intended in any way to be a complete history of market technology, but rather an easily digestible introduction to Institutional Investor 's new feature, "Nerd on the Street."

History repeats and informs in market technologies. From the days when front-running involved actual running to the "Victorian Internet era" brought on by telegraphy, we can learn a great deal from looking back at a simpler era.

"Progress might have been all right once, but it has gone on too long."

— Ogden Nash

Nerd on the Street

Click here to view the Nerds On Wall Street Gallery Slideshow

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