Friday, February 08, 2013


The house in which I live is very much like a school or other complex institution. If you have a chat in the bathroom, anyone can hear it from another bathroom because the bathrooms vent into open air all on the same side of the house. However, you can't hear a thing clearly if you are in any other room in the house.

So it is with institutions of public character. You have to go to the bathroom to hear the juicy stuff. I remember that in the old school, one quirk of the boardroom was that its false ceiling was shared with the toilet nearby. So if you went to that toilet, you could hear what was being said in the boardroom. Since nobody was really banned from using the toilet, you could tell who knew things and you could know things yourself.

But there's a broader sense to all that. Quite often, in-house information transfer is pathetically poor compared to what a determined observer can glean from outside. All you have to do is find the right connections, and where the bathrooms vent their air.

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