y solution was wrong, of course. Same as everybody else's during the seven decades that have followed. But that day I was shown how to solve it, and something wonderful lighted up my six-year-old cranium. The moment marked the beginning of a penchant for solving puzzles -- and later on, for creating puzzles, thereby offering others the pleasure of finding solutions.
Within fifty years, the Internet
asserted its primacy. What better venue will
there ever be for sharing puzzles with the
world! A search on the web for "puzzles online"
produces hits by the tens of millions. Heck, you
will find more than a hundred entries listed in the
table of contents at Puzzles with a
Purpose. By the way, one of those
puzzles has a grown-up title, Counter-Intuitive
Cork. Here are some observations about
that on-line collection...
The idea of the puzzle is to invite passive readers to become active solvers. By convention, the published solution is necessarily kept separated from the puzzle. Solvers must wait for the next publication cycle or suffer some other form of inconvenience, like looking up the denouement on a different page or upside down in fine print. On the web, the solution is one click away. Suspense is thus self regulated.
-publication opens up a galaxy of new conventions. The power of transclusion by hypertext deserves highest consideration. Optional links augment the content of both puzzle and solution. Gaps in a solver's knowledge get filled in instantly for the occasion at hand -- and beyond. Acquiring new knowledge cannot be avoided, as this singular tool-of-the-web exploits and satisfies the solver's curiosities (plural).
Paperless delivery makes conservation of space meaningless. Indeed, hyphen-Everybody knows that there are two general categories for literature: fiction and nonfiction. Puzzles can be fiction but their solutions must be nonfiction! Please note the exclamatory punctuation. When one thinks of nonfiction, some twenty genres come readily to mind...
Something seems to be missing on that list. Isn't it about time for a new genre? Meanwhile...
decade, Puzzles with a Purpose evolved from
simple (Band Around
the Earth) and terse (Genesis Won One)
to complex (Next
Superbowl) and verbose (Sloping in the
Dark). Puzzles and their solutions,
unfettered by the conservation of paper, are free to
express any amount of literary content, in the form of
both essays and narratives. Whereas each puzzle
necessarily stands alone alongside its solution, some
puzzles became linked to others. Thus, a
half-dozen themes have emerged. They are listed
here with representative examples...
A few puzzles may have made original contributions in science (To Billow or Not to Billow), technology (Single Tracking), and mathematics (Circloid). Inasmuch as the solver's powers of observation are called into play, a puzzle and its solution might even result in original insights into a baffling mystery. Permit me to illustrate...
he puzzle Which way, Amelia? was created with an exceptionally ambitious objective: To solve the greatest mystery in aviation history, the disappearance of Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan during their 1937 flight around the world. Theories and speculations and myths appear on a million websites pertaining to this fascinating story. An on-line bibliography lists more than a hundred published works claiming to solve the mystery. Given all that, what might one puzzle hope to accomplish?
As puzzles are expected to do, those entries identify unknowns and solve for them. Acting together, they address the most critical issues in Amelianna. Then too, there are unknowables in the historical record and popular narratives. That means solvers must make assumptions.
Whether that collection of puzzles accomplished the objective of actually solving the Amelia Earhart mystery with finality -- well, such a judgment is not within the scope of the present essay.
There are three dozen links among the
individual puzzles, binding them together to form a
coherent whole, transcending disparate topics. The Amelianna
Collection totals 20,000 words
and includes 40 illustrations. More than a
hundred text passages were brought in from
worldwide resources. With its transclusions, that
would amount to a ten-chapter book -- if the set were
ever printed out on paper.
hether these particular aggregations will wind up in a book-like manuscript remains to be seen, but -- hey, length is irrelevant. Indeed, a stand-alone puzzle qualifies for the new literary genre, especially one enriched with hypertext-intensive features. Care to share your thoughts?
hat was the working title for an early draft of this essay. Because of its resemblance to mathematics, problematics was thought by the author to have more gravitas than puzzle. A check in OneLook found these quick definitions for problematic (without the 's')...
Another web reference provides usage examples for problematics, all decidedly gloomy...