Following , the fish market can be described as a place where several scenes take place simultaneously, at different locations, but with some causal continuity. The main scene is the auction itself, in which buyers bid for boxes of fish that are presented by an auctioneer who calls prices in descending order, the downward bidding protocol. However, before those boxes of fish may be sold, fishermen have to deliver the fish to the fish market, at the sellers' admission scene, and buyers need to register for the market, at the buyers' admission scene. Likewise, once a box of fish is sold, the buyer should take it away by passing through a buyers' settlements scene, while sellers may collect their payments at the sellers' settlements scene once their lot has been sold.
The FM electronic auction house is based on this traditional fish market metaphor. In a highly mimetic way, the workings of FM also involve the concurrency of several scenes governed by the market intermediaries identified in the fish market (boss, buyer admitter, buyer manager, auctioneer, seller admitter, seller manager). Therefore, seller agents register their goods with a seller admitter agent, and can get their earnings (from a seller manager) once the auctioneer has sold these goods in the auction room. Buyers, on the other hand, register with a buyer admitter, and bid for goods which they pay through a credit line that is set up and updated by a buyer manager. Buyer and seller agents can trade goods as long as they comply with the institutional --auction market-- conventions.
The Virtual FM attempts at offering a visual representation of the distributed workings of FM. Hence it has been divided into a set of scenes (out of market, buyers' admission, sellers' admission, auction room, buyers' settlements, and sellers' settlements) corresponding to their counterparts in FM. Within this setting, two representation levels can be differentiated:
During each bidding round composing an auction of a tournament session, several events may come about: bids, collisions, sales, etc. These events are graphically represented by illuminating with different colours the icons of the agents involved in a given event. Find below the list of colours employed and their associated meanings:
Also note that no buyer is illuminated when the auctioneer declares the good on sale out of market (because its reserve price has been reached). Nonetheless, the Monitoring Agent does signal this event.
In what follows, the interaction through the Monitoring Agent configuration panel with the Virtual FM is explained in detail.