CHAPTER 1

Introduction

The oldest documents to survive antiquity are Sumerian receipts estimated to be 7,000 years old. Written in cuneiform on clay tablets, this documentation has all of the recognizable details one would expect in a modern transfer of custody: who is making the purchase, who is recording it, what kind of stuff and how much, and so on.1

It takes little imagination to frame the scene: the scribe, reed stylus in hand (maybe a few spares tucked into his hair) dutifully recording the contents of the transaction, making small talk with the customer, the late summer sun high in the sky, a light breeze signaling autumn is approaching.

Truly, things have not changed much since. Swap that stylus and tablet for their electronic counterparts ...

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