This introductory chapter begins with a discussion of the three functional responses to the question of what an exchange is. It then outlines the four themes that run through the book. The first is that the answer to the question of what is an exchange is complex. The second concerns the need to balance an understanding of a range of broad abstract topics with an appreciation of the minutiae of many different contexts. The third theme is the importance of technology in understanding the nature and role of exchanges and trading systems. The final theme is the struggle between what is believed to lie in the public domain and what is thought to be a matter solely of private concern. An overview of the subsequent chapters is presented.
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