For a company on the cutting edge of modern technology, Google sure plays close attention to history. Here is the company's senior vice president, product management, Jonathan Rosenberg, writing about "The Meaning of Open": "When railroad tracks were first being laid across the U.S. in the early 19th century, there were seven different standards for track width. The network didn't flourish and expand west until the different railway companies agreed upon a standard width of 4' 8.5". (In this case the standards war was an actual war: Southern railroads were forced to convert over 11,000 miles of track to the new standard after the Confederacy lost to the Union in the Civil War.)" More: "when traders in the Mediterranean region circa 3000 BC invented seals (called bullae) to ensure that their shipments reached their destinations tamper-free, they transformed commerce from local to long distance." As a historian, it's interesting to me that those thinking hardest about the future, whether it is the future of capitalism or the future of technology, keep an eye on the past.