(Page 4 of 4)
[Jobs] insisted there be only two bathrooms in the entire Pixar Studios, and that these would be in the central space. And of course, this is very inconvenient; no one wants to have to walk 15 minutes to go to the bathroom. And yet Steve insisted that this is the one place everyone has to go, every day.
According to the May 2001 issue of Modern Steel Construction, the Pixar building has a footprint of 240ft. x 480 ft. With the bathrooms centrally located, what this suggests is that no one inside Pixar is ever more than eighty yards or so away from a commode. Even Wall-E’s sad endomorphs could cover that distance in substantially less than 15 minutes. And most actual Pixar employees, I’m betting, could break the 30-second mark if really pressed.
Of course, even when news media outlets were as lavishly staffed as road construction crews, it would have been impractical to fact-check every utterance of interview guests. Now, that’s out of the question, and thus, along with NPR, the Economist has also inadvertently helped Lehrer spread the Pixar bathrooms myth. So has U.S. News & World Report, British GQ, Inc. magazine, and Australia’s Radio National, amongst others. And obviously it’s not just traditional news outlets that are creating this chorus of misinformation. The NEA, the California Thoracic Society, the Covenant Presbyterian Church, and the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce have lent their voices to the cause too. So have numerous individual bloggers and tweeters.
By now, the myth of insufficient bathrooms as creative laxative is so entrenched in the minds of the world’s thought leaders that disaster seems imminent. In just a few short years, creativity may reach all-time highs, but unoccupied stalls will be as scarce as people who still pay for newspaper subscriptions. In sleek corporate headquarters everywhere, weak-bladdered project managers will be marking territory on elevator walls. Interface designers will be defecating in broom closets.
If you think that such apocalyptic scenarios only underscore the need for old-fashioned internal fact-checking, well, sure. But what the Pixar bathrooms myth also illustrates is how little influence our most heralded journalism franchises really wield now. The New Yorker’s legendary fact-checkers can’t police every Google gathering where Lehrer puts his “two bathrooms” spin on the story—and it can’t stop Google from turning his presentation into media too. They can’t stop the nation’s preteen ministers from referencing Lehrer’s Pixar bathrooms myth in their online curriculums. But if the Internet makes it easy to spread dubious information near and far, it also puts Pixar publicists and old copies of Modern Steel Construction close at hand. The truth is that we’re living in a golden age of fact-checking. Readers, rejoice! Journalists, beware!