Scott’s examples of state-imposed uniformity should not, however, be misconstrued to infer that any case of uniformity is state-imposed, or that such regularities, even if state-imposed, don't have underlying natural constraints. Formalized institutions of property registration and title have appeared in the crevices between states, for example in the squatter community of Kowloon Walled City that existed from 1947-1993 on a piece of the Kowloon peninsula that was claimed by both China and Britain, yet governed by neither. While the institutions of Kowloon Walled City may have been patterned after those familiar to its residents from the outside world, they were internally imposed rather than by a state.
Patterns of highway network design present another apparent counterexample. Scott discusses the design of highways around Paris as being designed by the state to intentionally route traffic through Paris, as well as to allow for military and law enforcement activity within the city in order to put down insurrections. But motorway patterns in the UK appear to have a more organic structure, as a recent experiment with slime molds oddly confirmed. Two researchers at the University of West of England constructed a map of the UK out of agar, putting clumps of oat flakes at the locations of the nine most populous cities. They then introduced a slime mold colony to the mix, and in many cases it extruded tendrils to feed on the oat flakes creating patterns which aligned with the existing motorway design, with some variations. A similar experiment with a map of cities around Tokyo duplicated the Tokyo railway network, slime-mold style. The similarity between transportation networks and evolved biological systems for transporting blood and sap may simply be because they are efficient and resilient solutions.
These examples, while not refuting Scott’s point about frequent failures in top-down imposition of order, suggest that it may be possible for states to achieve success in certain projects by facilitating bottom-up development of ordered structures. The state often imposes an order that has already been developed via some other means--e.g., electrical standards were set up by industry bodies before being codified, IETF standards for IP which don't have the force of law yet are globally implemented. In other cases, states may ratify an emerging order by, e.g., preempting a diversity of state rules with a set that have been demonstrated to be successful, though that runs the risk of turning into a case like Scott describes, if there are local reasons for the diversity.
[A slightly different version of the above was written as a comment on the first two chapters of Scott's book for my Human and Social Dimensions of Science and Technology core seminar. I've ordered a copy of the book since I found the first two chapters to be both lucidly written and extremely interesting. Thanks to Gretchen G. for her comments that I've used to improve (I hope) the above.]
UPDATE (April 25, 2010): Nature 407:470 features "Intelligence: Maze-solving by an amoeboid organism."