How outraged should you be about ads in Windows 8 apps? Not at all

How outraged should you be about ads in Windows 8 apps? Not at all

Summary: Repeat after me: There are no ads in Windows 8. Yes, you can find ads if you look closely at a group of consumer apps from a separate Microsoft division. But you'll be surprised to learn the real reason why those apps are in every copy of Windows 8.

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TOPICS: Windows
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In case you didn’t get the memo, we’re all supposed to be outraged that a handful of the built-in Windows 8 apps are ad-supported.

The sponsors of this movement are bipartisan. From the Mac Party, John Gruber examines the very idea of this "built-in advertising" and calls it “gross.” (Hilariously, his link for the supporting story sent Daring Fireball readers to a site that uses obnoxious auto-playing video pop-up ads.)

And representing the Grand Old Windows Party, Paul Thurrott is outraged, I tell you, that any part of Windows 8 has ads. It “cheapens” the OS, he argues. He believes that those ads exist to allow Microsoft to sell Windows 8 upgrades for a mere $40, in the belief that those ad revenues go toward the Windows division’s bottom line.

Paul and John are both mistaken. Those apps aren’t part of Windows 8. They are part of a separate Microsoft project specifically designed to create showcase apps that will “inspire Windows 8 app developers.” (I’ll get to those details later in this post.) Although I'm sure the head of the Online Services Division would love it if I were wrong, I am willing to bet those apps will not be money-making machines in and of themselves.

So here’s the amusing thing. Most of my online work is paid for by ads. Paul Thurrott’s newly redesigned Windows SuperSite (looks great, by the way) is paid for by ads. Gruber’s site is paid for (handsomely, if rumors are to be believed) by a single ad placed discreetly alongside the content on his blog, and by ads in his RSS feed and podcasts.

But the Windows 8 apps are different, right? Well, no. I’ve gone methodically through the Windows 8 apps collection. Each app typically has one discreet ad situated to the side of all content. Just like Daring Fireball, except in color and with pictures.

The screen shots that Paul published (which were similar to those in the article Gruber linked to) are cropped to show a tiny portion of the actual app space. If you see the full app, you get a very different picture.

Here, for example, is the Windows 8 News app, as viewed on a typical 1366x768 screen. The total width is 8,967 pixels, or seven full screens in landscape mode. Imagine swiping or scrolling through all these stories before you see the single ad at the far right:

News app ads - small

(To see the full-size image, go here and click View Original in the app bar at the top.)

That is one ad, positioned alongside a wealth of content. It is not, by any stretch of anyone’s imagination, obtrusive or offensive. The ad would be right at home on any top-shelf destination on the web.

The other ad-supported apps are like that, too, even on humongous monitors. Here, for example is the San Francisco Giants section of the Sports app, as seen on a display with 2560x1440 resolution:

Sports app ads - small

(Full-size image here.)

So, these are gorgeous, information-dense apps. That view of the Sports app is one tiny part of the MLB category, which in turn is one of eight sports represented (including soccer). That one view has more than 60 tiles, each leading to a news story, a game recap, or a player's profile. You have to go past all 60 of those tiles before you see the lone ad.

The news app takes you through nearly 40 stories in seven categories, from 29 big-name mainstream media sources.

Maybe it would be instructive to break out Windows 8 into two groups: those that don’t have ads and those that do.

Windows features and apps WITHOUT ads

  • Windows desktop
  • Windows desktop utilities and accessories (WordPad, Paint, File Explorer, etc.)
  • Mail
  • Calendar
  • People
  • Messaging
  • SkyDrive
  • Photos
  • Internet Explorer
  • Store
  • Camera
  • Reader
  • Bing*
  • Maps*
  • Music**
  • Video**

* The Bing app does not include display ads, and it did not not mix ads in with any of my test searches. Some search terms result in text ads (shown in green) that are the same as sponsored ads at the top of web search results. I did not find any ads in the Bing-powered Maps app.

** The Music and Video apps have store components alongside sections for viewing, managing, and playing your library, but they don’t include any ads, as far as I can tell. (The free version of the Xbox Music streaming service does have audio ads, which go away if you have an Xbox Music Pass.)

That’s one helluva lot of Windows 8 that doesn’t have ads. So which apps have the gross/cheap tawdry ads that are inspiring these complaints?

Windows apps WITH ads

  • Games
  • News
  • Finance
  • Sports
  • Weather
  • Travel

OK, Games is the front end to managing your Xbox Live account. It includes a console where you can manage your account, customize your avatar, see your friends’ activity, and view your own game-playing. It also has ads mixed in with the store content. You’ll find similar ads on the corresponding Xbox Live web page and on the console. I agree with Paul that paying Xbox Live Gold members should have an option to turn off ads. But these hardly have anything to do with Windows.

And that leaves us with the five remaining Bing apps. Four of them (News, Sports, Finance, and Weather) contain constantly updated information from news agencies, sports bureaus, stock exchanges, and weather service providers.

The fifth app, Travel, aggregates data from Fodor’s, Frommer’s, and TripAdvisor to create guidebooks for destinations. You can use Bing-powered search boxes to find hotels and flights, a service for which Bing no doubt gets a cut.

Bing, which is a part of Microsoft’s Online Services Division, is paying for that content. The division has also hired an editorial staff to curate the content in these apps. Here’s a current ad for someone to manage the Finance Apps. They’re looking for “an experienced individual with a background in Finance website programming or magazine development to lead … next-generation Apps on new devices and form factors. “

As another current ad notes, these apps are in a group by themselves, called the Bing Application Experiences (“AppEx”) Product Group (which Mary Jo Foley profiled back in August):

The AppEx team is developing a suite of Microsoft apps for Windows 8 that will be preinstalled on every image of Windows -- these apps include News, Finance, Sports, Travel and Weather. The AppEx team is at the leading edge of innovation in creating consumer experiences for Windows 8. Our goal is to build best of class apps in key vertical segments to inspire Windows 8 app developers and provide instant value to consumers of Windows 8. [emphasis added]

Got it? Those apps are interesting, useful, and beautiful because their goal is to give Windows 8 users some valuable apps right out of the box and to give the developer community some ideas. (Including ideas about how not to junk up an app with cheap, ugly or gross ads.)

They are essentially third-party apps, from a favored developer that happens to work for the same parent company as the Windows division.

Ad-supported news apps are nothing new. Even paid subscribers to the New York Times and Wall Street Journal apps on Windows 8 and on iOS see ads along with their content. (The same is true on the web and in print.)

Apple tried to do something similar in early 2011, partnering with Rupert Murdoch on The Daily, an iPad-exclusive daily newspaper. At the high-profile launch event with Apple exec Eddy Cue, Murdoch said the split between ad and subscription revenue would eventually go “towards that magic 50/50.” The Daily is still around, although John Gruber says he gave up on it after three days.

Any Windows 8 user can, of course, avoid these ads by simply not opening the apps in question. The apps can even be uninstalled completely.

Meanwhile, the iPad doesn’t even have a default weather app. Much less one that shows you the 10-day forecast, hourly forecast, multiple satellite and radar maps, and historical data before you get to an ad.

The money from these apps isn’t subsidizing the short-term discounted price of Windows 8, as Thurrott mistakenly believes. It’s going into the Online Services Division. And there’s no indication of any kind that ads are going to appear in Windows itself. Could someone at Microsoft decide, someday, to turn Windows into an ad-supported product? Sure. Anything can happen, I guess. But that's not the direction Microsoft appears to be heading.

And this handful of beautifully designed and incredibly useful apps is not even on the same continent as that "slippery slope" Thurrott is worried about.

Topic: Windows

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232 comments
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  • According to certain pundits...

    ... We should be outraged over Windows 8 regardless... But that's a write-up for another day. :)
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • The problem . . .

      is those who believe that one particular OS is the "right one" for everyone. It ignores that people have different preferences and that people prefer to work in different paradigms.

      I remember similar debates in the 1970s regarding calculators that work with an equal sign and brackets sign versus RPN calculators. One style suited some; the other suited others.
      Wakemewhentrollsgone
      • Exactly.

        There may well be certain things that turn you off a specific OS, and thats understandable given so many of us work with computers now a days and if ones sitting in front of an OS they find to be strongly substandard in some important areas it would certainly give rise to some strong feelings of negativity.

        But the bottom line is that people do have different needs and wants in the OS their computer uses, and for some with particular hardware interests that in itself may go long way towards dictating what OS you end up using.

        But, the rather scathing views on particular operating systems that some people take are often completely unwarranted. I have known many people over the years who use Macs for example, they really like using their Macs. They certainly have their reasons. I use Windows as do the majority in my office and we have our reasons.

        Its obviously the clear cut opinion of far too many that if you do use an OS thats not of their particular liking that your completely out of your mind. I would suggest that thats only the case where you have chosen to use a particular OS or even hardware configuration based on purely ludicrous assumptions. I would also suggest that in the vast majority of those particular instances the ludicrous assumptions have very likely come by way of the many and various pundits who DO seem to thrive on shouting about moronic and vacuous assumptions about hardware and operating systems.

        It would be far far better and much more informative if those who are in the position to write articles on such things made every possible effort to keep it real and avoid the over the top criticism they love to scream about and to likewise call an end to any apologist state of affairs they may be promoting for their particular product of choice.
        Cayble
        • Windows 8 ads

          Semantics. Ads come in box inside the Windows OPSYS. Windows 8 comes with aps. Windows 8 does have aps built in. Just because they are not imbedded in the opsys code doesn't change the fact that Windows 8 comes with ads right out of the box. If you have no choice but to install them with the opsys then it has ads built in. I for one do NOT like installing software that installs other aps and ads without my permission and without the option to exclude them. OBTW, your comparison with web sites with ads is ridiculous. Web aps can't be compared to purchased software no matter how you try to doll it up. Another thing is that this is only the crack in the door. Expect the flood.
          btamxx
          • Either you didn't read the OP or...

            you missed a bunch of details. There is no indication that MS is moving towards a more ad supported OS. Also, your comment: "I for one do NOT like installing software that installs other aps and ads without my permission...", should not apply to Windows 8, or any OS, because they all install software without your permission. Damn that paint and notepad! And how dare my iPad come with apps preinstalled!
            NOEEM
          • Exactly...

            and what's the big deal about ads. Whether you directly pay for something, or to be somewhere, you're going to see some sort of advertizing most of the time. They are everywhere and on everything. And you really can't do much about it.
            plodder2.0
          • Yeah, right

            Tell me that again, when you get in you car it immediately displays ads on your dashboard, gauge cluster, and starts piping through the speakers, without your accepting that nor having an opt-out. The car you paid for.
            lelandhendrix@...
          • hehe

            That's right - cave in.

            You are a consumer, I assume???
            Zenith545
          • I have no issue what so ever with ads if

            I am visiting a site or using an app that is free to me to use or is knowingly being subsidized by ads. I do not expect to see ads in apps that come already installed in my system purchased directly from the OS manufacturer like MS, Apple or in the case of Google in the Nexus line. I don't care which of these companies it came from if there are ad subsidized apps on they system out of the box from them it cheapens the OS and in my opinion dismissing it is only being an apologist. For those that think it's no big deal how many of you would be bashing Apple if they did the same thing, I suspect a good percentage.
            non-biased
          • I think you've gone one bridge too far

            The issue isn't an OS installing apps you didn't ask for...the issue is apps WITH ADS appearing by default, in a system that you paid for.

            We've been complaining about crapware being loaded on new PCs, to the point that Microsoft stores finally created a premium version that DIDN'T include junk ware preinstalled. Now, here, we have Windows installing apps that require AD-displaying, right out of the box...and it seems really close to Microsodt creating their own crapware to install.
            lelandhendrix@...
          • Except that's pretty much every app on my iPod

            They pop up ads when I'm using them, & I neither asked for them nor was given a page to "opt out" of them.
            spdragoo@...
          • Well...

            That would because you're using the free/lite version of an app that is ad-supported, and you were told that it was ad-supported and you, aware, still clicked install and ran it.

            You chose to see those ads, because you chose a different payment model for you app.

            It's just like how there are two versions of Angry Birds in the App Store--one with ads that's free, and one you pay for that is ad-free.

            Where do Windows 8 users get that choice?
            lelandhendrix@...
          • Name one

            Name one app that your iPod came preinstalled with that is ad subsidized? Go head name at least one since you claim it's every app. Of course if you goal is to only get free apps from the App Store how do you think the developers pay for those apps? How you choosing to download those free apps the same as MS including ads in their preinstalled apps?
            non-biased
        • Cayble ... this is what i think: read carefully before jumping on me

          More than anything else, an analytical approach is the use of an appropriate process to break a problem down into the smaller pieces necessary to solve it. Each piece becomes a smaller and easier problem to solve.


          Problem solving is puzzle solving. Each smaller problem is a smaller piece of the puzzle to find and solve.

          Putting the pieces of the puzzle together involves understanding the relevant parts of the system. Once all the key pieces are found and understood, the puzzle as a whole "snaps" together, sometimes in a final flash of insight.

          The key word in the above definition is "appropriate." If your problem solving process doesn't fit the problem at hand, you can execute the process to the highest quality possible and still not solve the problem. This is the reason most people fail to solve difficult problems. They're using an inappropriate approach without realizing it. The process doesn't fit the problem.

          You can look high and low, and under every bush in plain sight, but unless you're using an appropriate analytical approach you will never find enough pieces of the puzzle to solve a difficult problem. Even the most brilliant and heroic effort will lead to naught if you're using a problem solving process that doesn't fit the problem.

          Lack of a process that fit the problem is why the alchemists failed to turn lead into gold. It's also why so many people and organizations, as well as entire social movements, are failing to turn opportunities into successes.

          What are the pieces of your puzzle?

          How are you going to find them?

          The rest of this article is a deep look at a tried-and-true way of answering that question.

          A few thoughts from Morgan Jones, master of analysis

          An analytical approach is also known as "structuring one's analysis." Here's what Morgan Jones, former CIA analyst, has to say in his widely acclaimed The Thinker's Toolkit, 1995. The book contains 14 powerful analytical techniques for solving difficult problems:

          Exactly what does structuring one's analysis mean? The word analysis means separating a problem into its constituent elements. Doing so reduces complex issues to their simplest terms.

          If we are to solve problems, from those confined to a single individual to those affecting whole nations, we must learn how to identify and break out of restrictive mindsets and give full, serious consideration to alternative solutions. We must learn how to deal with the compulsions of the human mind that, by defeating objective analysis, close the mind to alternatives. Failure to consider alternatives fully is the most common cause of flawed or incomplete analysis.

          As a result [of taking an instinctive, intuitive approach] we unwittingly, repeatedly, habitually commit a variety of analytic sins. For example:

          We commonly begin our analysis of a problem by formulating our conclusions; we thus start at what should be the end of the analytic process.

          Our analysis usually focuses on the solution we intuitively favor; we therefore give inadequate attention to alternative solutions.

          Not surprisingly, the solution we intuitively favor is, more often than not, the first one that seems satisfactory. Economists call this phenomenon satisficing (a merging of satisfy and suffice). Herbert Simon coined the neologism in 1955, referring to the observation that managers most of the time settle for a satisfactory solution that suffices for the time being rather than pursue the optimum solution that a 'rational model' would likely yield.

          We tend to confuse 'discussing/thinking hard' about a problem with 'analyzing' it, when in fact the two activities are not at all the same. Discussing and thinking hard can be like pedaling an exercise bike: they expend lots of energy and sweat but go nowhere.

          Like the traveler who is so distracted by the surroundings that he loses his way, we focus on the substance (evidence, arguments, and conclusions) and not on the process of our analysis. We aren't interested in the process and don't really understand it.

          Most people are functionally illiterate when it comes to structuring their problems. When asked how they structured their analysis of a particular problem, most haven't the vaguest notion what the questioner is talking about. The word structuring is simply not a part of their analytic vocabulary.

          Morgan Jones then reaches these two key conclusions:

          In the instinctive approach the mind generally remains closed to alternatives, favoring instead the first satisfactory decision or solution. Consequently, the outcome is frequently flawed or at least less effective than would be the case with the structured approach.

          In the structured approach the mind remains open, enabling one to examine each element of the decision or problem separately, systematically, and sufficiently, ensuring that all alternatives are considered. The outcome is almost always more comprehensive and more effective than with the instinctive approach.

          Now we can define a few terms: Analytical means the use of analysis to solve problems. Analysis is breaking a problem down into smaller problems so they can be solved individually. Good analysis uses a process to direct the analysis. A process is a repeatable series of steps to achieve a goal, such as a recipe or Robert's Rules of Order for parliamentary procedure. For a process to work, it must fit the problem and be used correctly.

          That's why an analytical approach is the use of an appropriate process to break a problem down into the elements necessary to solve it. Each element becomes a smaller and easier problem to solve.

          Let's apply these insights to the problem we seek to solve.

          Our fundamental premise

          The fundamental premise of Thwink.org is that only an analytical approach can solve difficult social problems.

          The world's problem solvers are failing to solve problems like global environmental sustainability and the corporate dominance problem because they are pushing on low instead of high leverage points. Activists are presently running blind. They're like a blind bull stumbling around in a china shop. They can't see the difference between what resolves root causes and what does not due to reliance on an instinctual problem solving process rather than an analytical one. If activists would switch to an analytical approach that fits the problem, as science did back in the 17th century when it adopted the Scientific Method, they would be able to correctly analyze difficult problems and find the high leverage points necessary to solve them.

          Only then will the impossible become the possible.

          Why is an analytical approach any better than what we are doing now?

          Because what public interest activists are using now is an intuitive approach. Intuitive approaches work on easy problems. They sometimes work on medium difficulty problem. But they fail on difficult problems because an intuitive approach is simply incapable of the deep, methodical approach required to solve difficult complex system social problems.

          The problems the environmental movement faces today, like climate change and abnormally high rates of species extinction, are immensely difficult. If we do not take an analytical approach all we have left to fall back on is an instinctual intuitive approach. History has shown over and over that this doesn't work , even with heroic effort, on classic social problems like these:

          Environmental sustainability

          Overpopulation

          Recurring wars

          Recurring large recessions

          Excessive income inequality

          Institutional large-scale poverty

          Endemic political corruption

          Corporate dominance

          Every one of these problems is centuries or millennia old. There must be a reason all attempts at solution have failed, because every event has a cause. We hypothesize the main reason is reliance in a process that doesn't fit the problem.

          Reliance on an informal intuitive problem solving process is the main reason the environmental movement is failing to make the progress so urgently needed. Because of this fatal failure, and it cannot be called anything else, the movement is rapidly losing its credibility with the public, governments, and donors. But we cannot blame the opposition. Nor can we blame the problem for being so intractable. We can only blame ourselves for doing something terribly wrong.

          Thwink.org believes that environmentalism's fundamental error is failure to use a process that fits the problem. The process must center on root cause analysis. This is the central theme this website will be driving home time and time again, because an analytical approach is the only known method that works on difficult problems.

          I don't believe an analytical approach is the only reliable way that can work. Can you prove this?

          Thanks. Here's a short proof:

          An analytical approach is the use of an appropriate process to break a problem down into the elements necessary to solve it. Each subelement becomes a smaller and easier problem to solve. It follows that a non-analytical approach is just the opposite: the use of an inappropriate process, which is unable to break a problem down into the elements necessary to solve it. Because this is not done, the problem remains too big and complex to solve. Therefore an analytical approach is the only reliable way that will work on solving the global environmental sustainability problem, because that problem is too big and complex too solve any other way.

          Here's another short proof:

          This is a difficult problem. Unlike simple problems, difficult problems require an analysis to solve them, because finding the correct solution requires a rigorous analysis. A correct analysis requires reliable knowledge. And the only known way to produce reliable knowledge, knowledge that you know is true, is the Scientific Method. Therefore, because the Scientific Method is an analytical approach, an analytical approach is the only known way to solve difficult problems.

          Here's a longer proof:

          A more formal proof it's the only reliable way forward:

          Any proposition with "the only reliable way" in it is a huge claim. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Here it is:

          An analytical approach is the use of an appropriate process to break a problem down into the elements necessary to solve it. Each element becomes a smaller and easier problem to solve. It follows that a non-analytical approach is just the opposite: the use of an inappropriate process, which is unable to break a problem down into the elements necessary to solve it. Because this is not done, the problem remains too big and complex to solve. That is one reason an analytical approach is the only reliable way that will work on solving the global environmental sustainability problem, because that problem is too big and complex too solve any other way.

          Let's take a longer approach to proving an analytical approach is not only a better way, it is the only way.

          We will try to prove two things:

          1. The analytical approach is the only known approach that works consistently on difficult problems.

          2. The global environmental sustainability problem is a difficult problem.

          If both propositions are true, then it follows that an analytical approach is the best way to solve the global environmental sustainability problem. Let's prove proposition (1), then (2), and finally conclude the argument.

          Proposition 1 - The analytical approach is the only known approach that works consistently on difficult problems.

          First we need to prove that the analytical approach is the only known approach that works consistently on difficult problems.

          The analytical approach is the formal use of reason to solve problems. The first rules to formal reasoning were invented by Aristotle (384 to 322 BC). Reasoning correctly involves representing the constituent elements of a argument with premises, intermediate conclusions, and final conclusions.


          Here's a simple example showing the difference between an intuitive and an analytical approach. Suppose you need to multiply two three digit numbers. Only a few geniuses can do it in their head, seemingly intuitively. The rest of us cannot no matter how hard we try. We are forced to take an analytical approach, which is structuring one's analysis.
          A multiplication problem is structured by writing the two numbers down as shown. Solving the problem then becomes as easy as falling off a log because it requires only multiplying or adding two one digit numbers at a time.
          We use hundreds of similar analytical approaches every day, like planning a driving route, composing a meal, and planning how to best approach an important conversation or project. These are done so often and so fast they seen intuitive. But in fact they are analytical.
          An analytical approach takes a problem, breaks it down into its constituent elements so as to understand the problem, and then adds elements that represent a solution. These elements form the formal argument that this is the problem and this is the solution.

          The reason an analytical approach is required for difficult problems is that all this becomes too complicated to do intuitively. Each element must be represented formally, such as with exact phrases in writing or with equations in a simulation model, so that the problem solver(s) can go over and over an evolving analysis to be certain it is correct. Complex problems have dozens or hundreds of elements, and hundreds or thousands of relationships between those elements. However the mind has only seven (plus or minus two) short term memory banks. This causes the mind to overload quickly on any but the simplest of problems, or problems it has encountered before and memorized the solution.

          Before the invention of the Scientific Method in the 17th century, science was based on tradition and guesswor6k. Afterward it was based on an analytical approach. This momentous change caused science to shift into a whole new mode of thinking, one so productive it quickly led to the Industrial Revolution and all that science and technology have brought us today. Science knows of no other method that will work to produce reliable knowledge. This should be proof enough that an analytical approach is required to solve difficult problems.

          To summarize, difficult problems require analysis because finding the correct solution rationally instead of by guessing requires a rigorous structured approach. A correct analysis requires reliable understanding, i.e. reliable knowledge. And the only known way to produce reliable knowledge, knowledge that you know is true, is the Scientific Method. Therefore, because the Scientific Method is an analytical approach, an analytical approach is the only known way to solve difficult problems.

          Modern civilization is an analytical world. We live or die by our analytical ability. If you can't correctly structure the problem you're working on, you will probably fail to solve the problem.

          Proposition 2 - The global environmental sustainability problem is a difficult problem.

          Next we need to prove that the global environmental sustainability problem is a difficult problem. To illustration how valuable an analytical approach can be, let's use one.

          Difficult environmental problems have characteristics making them inherently difficult to solve. By contrast, easy environmental problems have the following fundamental factors that make them fairly easy to solve:

          The Six Factors of Easy Problems

          A. Number of types of causes - Easy to solve problems are caused primarily by a single type of behavior, such as the way acid rain is caused mostly by the burning of sulfur-containing coal, or the way a river may be mostly polluted by a single group of chemicals, such as agricultural runoff or factory waste.

          B. Proof of cause and effect - For easy problems there is solid proof of cause and effect, such as the way accumulation of heavy metals in animals higher up in the food chain causes health problems, reproductive problems, or death.

          C. Displacement in time and space - Easy problems have a short displacement in time and space. This makes cause and effect more obvious. Displacement is the "distance" from cause to effect. For time this may be anywhere from minutes to years to centuries. For space the displacement may be local, regional, or global.

          D. Size of problem source - In easy problems the problem source typically involves a relatively small segment of society.

          E. Solution expense - The solution is relatively cheap.

          F. Solution complexity - The solution is relatively simple.

          Difficult problems are just the opposite. They usually have multiple types of behavior that cause them, tenuous proof of cause and effect, a long delay in time and space, the source involves a large segment of society, and the solution is relatively expensive and complicated. Each of these alone make a problem hard to solve. When combined they can make it close to impossible to even conceive of a solution that can be proven to have a high probability of working.

          The combination of the factors also causes the emergent problem of solution change resistance. This phenomenon occurs when people know what they should do, but they just don't want to do it. This is clearly present. An outstanding example occurred in 1999 when the US Senate voted 95 to zero against the Kyoto Protocol treaty on climate change. The treaty has not been brought back to the floor since.


          The pieces of the puzzle of this problem were small in number and easy to find:
          1. The problem was caused by a single type of behavior.
          2. There was solid proof of cause and effect.
          3. The problem source involved a small segment of the system.
          4. There was a relatively easy cheap solution.
          So despite use of a traditional problem solving approach, the environmental movement solved the sustainability problem. The same cannot be said, however, for the other portions of the problem like climate change, fresh water shortages, deforestation, chemical pollution, natural resource depletion, and many more.
          An example of an easy problem was the ozone layer depletion problem. While it looked like a tremendously difficult problem at the time, it was not. It fit the pattern of easy environmental problems. It was caused mostly due to a single type of behavior: chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) released into the atmosphere from air conditioners and refrigeration equipment. It had solid proof of cause and effect, after scientific studies were completed. The problem source involved a relatively small segment of society: the CFC manufacturing and use industry. And finally, it had a relatively easy and cheap solution: switch to a substitute.

          There was a medium delay in time and a large delay in space, but because the other four factors were present, the ozone layer depletion problem fit the pattern of a simple problem, despite its apparent size and complexity. As a result, by the 1990s the ozone depletion problem was largely solved.
          But it was the only difficult global problem that was. The rest, such as climate change, groundwater depletion, topsoil loss, deforestation, and abnormally high species extinction rates, remain unsolved. The reason is they do not fit the pattern of an easy problem, and so are beyond the capabilities of the conventional problem solving approach.

          The global environmental sustainability problem falls into the difficult end of the spectrum for all of these factors:

          The Six Factors for Difficult Problems

          A. Number of types of causes - Difficult problem have many types of causes. Almost every industrialized action we take to produce our food, go to work, generate the energy we consume, build our homes and offices and factories, and so on is a cause.

          B. Proof of cause and effect - In difficult problems proof tends to be weak or takes a long time to mature. Although proof we must change course to be sustainable is seen as solid by scientists, it is still seen as weak by society, because of arguments like new technology will solve the problem (technological optimism), as well as the way the very idea of unsustainability is inconceivable to many people (the cultural blindspot problem).

          C. Displacement in time and space - Difficult problems usually have long displacement in time and space. For example, climate change has a time displacement of centuries and a space displacement of global.

          D. Size of problem source - Difficult problems are systemic so their intermediate causes arise from many places in the system. In the sustainability problem, the problem source is nearly every person, corporation, and government on the planet.

          E. Solution expense - Difficult problems usually have expensive solutions. Solving the environmental sustainability problem will be terribly expensive. There's much more than climate change to solve. There's the other nine unsolved problems in the SCOPE study (see below): freshwater scarcity, deforestation and desertification, freshwater pollution, lost of biodiversity, air pollution (excluding climate change), soil deterioration, chemical pollution, and natural resource depletion. They must all be solved simultaneously. Most need to be solve reactively, which is much more expensive.

          F. Solution complexity - Difficult problems usually have complex solutions. How do you get seven billion people to fundamentally change their entire life style to solve the entire sustainability problem in only a generation or two? Whatever the solution, it will be inherently complex.

          This proves proposition (2), that the global environmental sustainability problem is a difficult problem. In fact, it probably ranks as the most difficult one ever encountered by Homo sapiens in his short 200,000 years of existence.

          Argument conclusion

          Let's recap our argument. We are trying to prove two things: (1) That the analytical approach is the only known approach that works consistently on difficult problems, and (2) That the global environmental sustainability problem is a difficult problem. If both propositions are true, then it follows that an analytical approach is the best way to solve the global environmental sustainability problem.

          Now we can complete the argument. The above has proven (1) and (2) to be true. Therefore it follows that an analytical approach is the best way for the environmental movement to solve the global environmental sustainability problem. Because this is so radically different from the present approach, it qualifies as a new paradigm.

          The particular analytical approach we recommend is Analytical Activism.

          The SCOPE Study - This defines the complete sustainability problem

          This is a fine example of an analytical approach.

          Results of the Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment (SCOPE) study may be found in Global Environmental Outlook 2000. The committee performed a study to find the world’s top environmental problems. The results were summarized in a list of “major emerging issues” on page 339. Some issues on the list are social, such as “poor governance.” Others are contributors (proximate causes) to other issues, such as “population growth and movement.” Extraneous issues like these were removed so as to leave only bona fide environmental problems. The top eleven are listed below.



          The SCOPE Study
          Environmental Problem
          Urgency
          Solution Success
          1. Climate change
          51%
          Low
          2. Freshwater scarcity
          29%
          Low
          3. Deforestation and desertification
          28%
          Low
          4. Freshwater pollution
          28%
          Medium
          5. Loss of biodiversity
          23%
          Low
          6. Air pollution (excluding climate change)
          20%
          Medium
          7. Soil deterioration
          18%
          Low
          8. Ecosystem functioning
          17%
          Low
          9. Chemical pollution
          16%
          Medium
          10. Stratospheric ozone depletion
          15%
          High
          11. Natural resource depletion
          11%
          Low
          The percents are the percentage of SCOPE study respondents who mentioned the issue. More than 200 environmental experts in over 50 countries contributed to the study. 51% of all respondents mentioned climate change as a major emerging issue. Note the problems are ranked by urgency, not difficulty.
          This list defines the complete global environmental sustainability problem in terms of symptoms. However, it contains discouraging news: Only the tenth problem on the list, the ozone hole problem, is on a fairly certain path to solution. The other problems are growing worse with no solution in sight.
          dkaparunakis@...
          • OMFG

            Omfg that's the most egregious spam I've ever seen
            lelandhendrix@...
          • You are out there.......

            Amazing, but not good, rambling essay you posted. In the end it is just a personal opinion that has nothing to do with the article.
            Zenith545
    • If that is the case then Windows 8 should be free

      I put up with ads in the IPAD apps only because there free. There not in the apps that I pay for. So what your telling me is that I have to put up with them in Windows 8 why ???
      awalkowiak@...
      • Because...

        "So what your telling me is that I have to put up with them in Windows 8 why ???"

        ...they're a part of a few apps that you can uninstall. You don't want them, remove them. So that you don't "have to put up with them".
        Badgered
        • But then...

          You do have to put up with them to get the advertised spec that you bought, but which didn't mention the ads.
          Henry 3 Dogg
        • Wow, grow a nut.

          So now the first thing you're supposed to do to the OS you PAID FOR is run around and clean up all the adware?

          Guess what: MY TIME ISN'T FREE.
          Oscar Goldman