An SOA article by IBM’s Mark Colan — nothing exactly new, but a great introduction:
In 221B.C., Emperor Qin unified several formerly warring states into a new country, which we now call China. Perhaps one reason China has endured as a nation was Qin’s introduction of standards, which consolidated cultures and facilitated trade: a standard distance for wheels on carts which allowed them to travel efficiently on any road, a common written language that everybody could use to exchange messages (even if they did not speak the same language), and a strong defense against outside attacks (like the Great Wall of China). You could say that he developed the models for standardized transport, message exchange, and the firewall.
(Found via the Service Orientated Architecture mailing list, where Gervas Douglas does a great job of digging up interesting stuff.)