A Different Sort of Three-Body Problem

This is post is silly. You’ll shortly see why.

A certain class of problems, known as n-body problems, features a rather famous problem of a special case – the “three body” problem. This problem, which captured the attention of notable mathematicians including Henri Poincaré and Leonhard Euler, is spelled out in Wikipedia as

“…the problem of taking the initial positions and velocities (or momenta) of three point masses and solving for their subsequent motion according to Newton’s laws of motion and Newton’s law of universal gravitation.”

Here’s the silly part. I’ve become persuaded that whenever a customer has to resolve a matter with three separate vendors – who may or may not cooperate and, if they do choose to cooperate, are likely to do so only to the extent their own interests are served – the customer faces a three body problem. Today the three bodies I was wrestling with included Network Solutions (which has long been registrar for the domain tomhigley.com), Google (which manages my tom@tomhigley.com email), and WordPress.com, which now hosts my tomhigley.com blog.

How hard can this be? Turns out, it can ridiculously painful. And I think most of the pain is accidentally inflicted and would go away almost completely if I were purchasing a package from any one of the three vendors. I could buy access to a WordPress.com site and a G Suite account from Network Solutions. If I did, I expect setup would be a breeze. I could buy access to domain, email and GSuite via WordPress, and if I did, the process would be easy to manage. It’s only when I purchase services separately from each vendor that the burden falls to me of coordinating them and making them all play together nicely.

To be fair, the two people who participated from Network Solutions who participated in chats did their very best to try to resolve DNS, A Record, CNAME and other issues. And all three people I connected with at WordPress did whatever they could, with Jess (the last person who responded) finally providing enough detail and enough clarity to make a resolution seem possible.

But you get the issue. I’ve mentioned 5 different people – to resolve a problem that should be stupidly simple to address. So, while it seems silly to say so, the communication process in these 3-cornered situations quickly becomes sufficiently complex that it feels like an attempt to resolve a three body problem.

(A side note. If you’re a science fiction fan and you’ve not read Cixin Liu’s “The Three-Body Problem,” I recommend it.)

My New Site & Blog

Here’s what I’m going to do.

This is my new site tomhigley.com

I’ll write about things I’m reading, learning, experiencing. People I’m impressed by. Stuff I don’t understand. Stuff I’m worried about. Stuff that makes me happy. Stuff that makes me sad.

Following Maria Popova’s lead, nearly every link in these blog posts will be links to other posts on the site. As I wrote elsewhere:

Maria does something unique with the links that she sprinkles, liberally in her brainpickings.org posts. Nearly every one of her linkS takes the reader to another brainpickings.org post. What this means may not be obvious until you think about it a bit. Suppose she’s writing a post that calls attention to the genius of Miles Davis and makes a reference to his early days as a musician with Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. While other writers – including me – might insert a link that references a story about how Miles first came to meet Charlie Parker or Diz, Maria would do something very different. She would instead link to another blog post she had written about how the famous musicians came to meet. In this way every one of her posts contains numerous additional links to the other posts she’s written. Her posts are actually networks of links to her curiosity, thinking, learning and writing.

To illustrate this, I might write a post that calls attention to Maria’s recent book, Figuring, and her thoughts about Johannes Kepler, Maria Mitchell, Ralph Waldo Emerson and others. And I might point out that she learned the correct pronunciation of Maria Mitchell’s name from James Gleick. My usual practice in a post like this would be to create a link to the place I found that information. But making MP’s approach my own, I might instead write several posts that reference one another. One of them, my post about Figuring, would examine MP’s nonlinear, non chronological way of weaving together people, thoughts, writing, events and discoveries. It might also include a link to Gleick with a reference to a separate blog post I write about him, his writing (Chaos, Time, etc.), his connection to MP and his take on Maria Mitchell. And in the piece about Gleick, I could also reference Carlo Rovelli’s The Order of Time and link in that to another post about our understanding of time which incorporates a reference to “A New Refutation of Time: Borges on the Most Paradoxical Dimension of Existence – Brain Pickings,” another of MP’s brainpickings.org posts, and a link to the post on Figures.

The effect of this approach is to create a body of incredibly wide ranging but interconnected material. It can always pull in new people, thoughts, materials, writings.

I’ll call attention to X Genesis, 10.10.10, and GSSN and Techstars – things that I support and that have supported me.

I’ll also give attention to founders and entrepreneurs I’ve met, worked with or become impressed by.

Listen More Learn More

Many quotes are bumper sticker slogans that pass for wisdom. To hell with that. Learn, think, do. Make something. Make something up. Write your own damn “quote.”

— Anonymous.

This is my first post for this new blog, so I’ll be brief.

I’m 65. I’ve lived in Michigan, Massachusetts, Maine and Colorado. I’ve been a musician, a lawyer and an entrepreneur. I started and run 10.10.10, a project of CNDC, a 501(c)3 organization. 10.10.10 has a mission to tackle the world’s wicked problems through public education and engagement that inspires entrepreneurs to action. I also started and run X Genesis, “new venture creation as a service.” I’ve learned a few things, but I know a lot less now than I did when I was 18. I’m still trying to learn as much as I can. And I hope you are reading this (and will read some of the other things that pop up here from time to time) because you’re curious and still learning too. If you already know everything you need to know, there’s probably nothing for you here.