RE: ICE = Information and Content Exchange.

Jim Whitehead (
Thu, 13 Aug 1998 12:46:27 -0700

I have, with my own two eyes, seen a copy of the ICE specification back in
May, so it does exist. I believe the ICE group is still meeting monthly,
and is chugging along on the development of their specification. Their
process involves developing a refined specification in private, followed by
submission to the W3C as a NOTE when relatively stable, and then begin a
more formal open standardization process.

- Jim

> -----Original Message-----
> From: I Find Karma []
> Sent: Thursday, August 13, 1998 9:51 AM
> To:
> Subject: ICE = Information and Content Exchange.
> Rohit asked me to look into ICE, but Hotbot, Dogpile, and Altavista
> cannot find the specification for it. Maybe it's not out yet?
> I did find a Red Herring article from February
> and a FAQ for ICE at the Vignette site
> that is so out of date, it still thinks Firefly exists. Anyone else out
> there know if the spec exists and if so, where it is? The FAQ, which
> was probably written in February, predicted the spec would be availble
> in July, but I don't see it anywhere on the Vignette site.
> I'll inclue the Red Herring article and the FAQ below in case anyone
> else is interested.
> > Will a new media-exchange spec let content flow from site to
> site with ease?
> > By Owen Thomas, Red Herring Online, February 11, 1998
> >
> > When Firefly and Vignette came out with their proposal last week for a
> > cross-site Web content distribution standard -- Information and Content
> > Exchange, or ICE -- it looked like so much vaporware. For one thing, it
> > was based on Extensible Markup Language (XML), a much-hyped system for
> > creating data formats on the fly that promised to vastly improve on HTML
> > -- but was still awaiting approval by the World Wide Web Consortium, a
> > major arbiter of Web standards.
> >
> > When the consortium blessed XML 1.0 yesterday, though, things got a lot
> > clearer for ICE. The proposal has gotten a boost from big names like
> > Microsoft and Sun Microsystems, and a raft of smaller Net software
> > companies have jumped on the bandwagon -- hoping, no doubt, that if ICE
> > takes off as a standard, their products won't be frozen out.
> >
> > ICE would create a defined way, based on XML, for content providers and
> > publishers to exchange content. While modern Web servers can perform all
> > kinds of magic with the content they serve up to users -- pulling it
> > from databases, customizing it for individual users, and pouring it into
> > various templates -- they're still lousy at trading content with other
> > servers. Online publishers, content aggregators, and retailers spend a
> > lot of time and money to acquire articles, product specifications, and
> > other "media assets" that they then repurpose onto their own sites.
> >
> > At present, this is mostly done through systems that site managers
> > develop internally; content aggregators like Excite and Yahoo have
> > legions of engineers devoted to maintaining their feeds from news
> > services, specialty Web publishers, and content partners. The cost makes
> > it prohibitive for most Web sites to incorporate content from multiple
> > sources -- which in turn may be keeping content providers from sources
> > of licensing revenue.
> >
> > "Presently, there's sufficient amount of friction in the interchange of
> > digital assets that it puts a floor in to how small a site's traffic
> > volume can be [for content syndication] to make economic sense," says
> > Neil Weintraut, general partner at 21st Century Venture Partners. "This
> > standard plays to the natural economics of information -- the antidote
> > to information's price tending towards zero is to get it before more
> > eyeballs."
> >
> > Vignette, with its established base in content management, has a natural
> > interest in promoting ICE; indeed, it's already got demoware called
> > Site-to-Site that promises to show how ICE could facilitate content
> > exchange between sites. "Vignette created ICE, and the reason we did was
> > that we see a real evolution going on from islands of Web sites to
> > networks of affiliated businesses," says Brad Husick, the company's vice
> > president of business development. "The reason we're not doing that on
> > our own is that it would be naive of us to think the whole world is
> > going to buy StoryServer [Vignette's high-end Web content-management
> > software]. Our interest is to build the world's most compelling
> > ICE-compatible products."
> >
> > Mr. Husick says that Firefly's experience with the standards process
> > made it an important partner. "Obviously Firefly has experience in how
> > to manage standards," says Mr. Husick. "We brought them in because of
> > their experience with the Open Profiling Standard and [the W3C's]
> > Platform for Privacy Preferences Project (P3P) ... and there are
> > directions where Firefly wants to take P3P which meld well with where we
> > want to take ICE."
> >
> > Firefly's most likely interest is facilitating the exchange of user
> > profile data -- albeit, as Firefly invariably stresses, with the consent
> > of those users. As for his company's having a core competency of
> > standards creation, Firefly's Saul Klein, senior vice president of sales
> > and marketing, won't disagree: "For a very small company, we've been
> > quite successful in not just rallying the technology industry, but
> > involving major publishers, ad agencies, and e-commerce companies."
> >
> > The ICE solution
> > There's clearly a problem in managing content outside the confines of an
> > indvidual site. But is ICE the solution? CommerceNet has already
> > proposed an XML-based spec called Product Information Exchange, for
> > online vendors and retailers; the W3C, meanwhile, has been making
> > strides on its Resource Definition Format, derived from work done by
> > Apple's Advanced Technology Group on the Meta-Content Format (MCF). If
> > ICE is to make headway, its backers will have to reconcile those efforts
> > with their own goals -- or leave content providers with a muddle of
> > overlapping standards to support.
> >
> > Even Mr. Husick concedes that with the rapid proliferation of specs and
> > proposals -- from the Web's underlying Hypertext Transfer Protocol, to
> > the Pointcast- and Microsoft-sponsored Channel Definition Format and a
> > plethora of XML-spawned formats to come -- "there are perhaps too many
> > standards out there of how to move Bit A to Bit B."
> >
> > Then again, observes Todd Haedrich, an analyst at Jupiter
> > Communications, "a lot of getting technology adopted is more about noise
> > and momentum than whether it's the best." While much of ICE has yet to
> > crystallize, its backers may have gotten the snowball rolling.
> And here's the FAQ.
> > Q: What does ICE stand for?
> > A: ICE stands for Information & Content Exchange. This is a proposed
> > protocol for the automatic, controlled exchange and management of online
> > assets between business partners.
> >
> > Q: What is ICE, and why is it being created?
> > A: ICE is being created to standardize the way in which businesses can
> > set up online relationships with other businesses to exchange
> > information in a controlled, measured, targeted fashion. Today there is
> > no accepted protocol for establishing these relationships, forcing
> > companies to create one-off technology integrations with each site they
> > choose to do business with. Currently, businesses have no standard means
> > of controlling, exchanging and sharing information with other businesses
> > without timely and expensive manual processes. Developers have no common
> > platform on which to build powerful networked applications to serve
> > multiple data types. And, individuals are finding it difficult to access
> > rich, personalized networked experiences while protecting their privacy.
> > With ICE, businesses can easily partner with any number of affiliates to
> > create online destinations such as syndicated publishing networks, Web
> > superstores, and online reseller channels.
> >
> > Q: Who is participating in the ICE ad-hoc working group?
> > A: The ICE ad-hoc working group is comprised of a unique blend of two
> > types of customer-driven companies: a) technology firms including Adobe,
> > Firefly, JavaSoft, Microsoft, National Semiconductor, and Vignette, and
> > b) asset exchanging companies including CNET, Hollinger International,
> > News Internet Services, Preview Travel, Tribune Media Services, and ZD
> > Net.
> >
> > Q: What is XML?
> > A: The Extensible Markup Language (XML) is a data format for structured
> > document interchange on the Web. XML is a project of the World-Wide Web
> > Consortium (W3C), and the development of the specification is being
> > supervised by their XML Working Group, of which Vignette is a member.
> >
> > Q: How does ICE relate to XML?
> > A: The underlying protocol of ICE is XML-based and describes content
> > syndication relationships between web servers. XML holds the potential
> > to be a revolutionary new approach to managing and interchanging
> > structured content within and across companies of all sizes.
> >
> > Q: What is OPS/P3P?
> > A: OPS ("Open Profiling Standard") is a specification submitted by
> > Firefly, Netscape and Microsoft to the Platform for Privacy Preferences
> > (P3P) working group within the W3C. OPS proposes an open industry
> > standard for the online exchange of profile information between
> > individuals and businesses within a framework for privacy. The proposal
> > has won the support of over 100 leading companies including IBM,
> > American Express, Oracle, Digital, Knight-Ridder, Sun, US Web and Yahoo!
> >
> > Q: How does ICE relate to OPS/P3P?
> > A: ICE is a logical extension to the work being done on P3P because it
> > manages the exchange of electronic assets from business to business
> > (server to server) in a completely trusted and controlled manner. In
> > keeping with the guiding principles of OPS-control by source and
> > informed consent--ICE enables businesses to automatically describe what
> > information can be passed to each affiliate and what may be done with
> > that asset once displayed on an affiliate site. Supporting OPS/P3P will
> > also enable business to present the best personalized content and
> > information to customers.
> >
> > Q: When will ICE-compatible products be available?
> > A: You can expect to see technology previews that support ICE throughout
> > the first half of 1998. Commercially available ICE-based products will
> > be available from companies shortly after the ICE specification is
> > completed and submitted for approval by a standards body.
> >
> > Q: How will ICE be proposed for consideration as a standard?
> > A: The ICE ad-hoc working group is developing a proposed specification
> > and predicts that this will be ready by June or July of this year. This
> > timeframe will remain flexible as the work proceeds. The ad-hoc working
> > group has begun coordinating efforts with standards bodies to streamline
> > the process of submission.
> >
> > Q: Why don't companies generally form networked relationships today?
> > A: Today, when two companies want to exchange content online, they must
> > negotiate everything from the format of the information to the structure
> > of their Web sites to the names of the people responsible for
> > maintaining current information. This is a highly inefficient,
> > inaccurate and non-scalable model. It becomes prohibitively complex when
> > three or more businesses are involved. ICE adds a standardized,
> > predictable, automated method for such exchanges with an unlimited
> > number of partners.
> >
> > Q: Is ICE an e-commerce transaction protocol like EDI?
> > A: No. ICE does not replace secure transaction protocols such as EDI.
> > ICE focuses on the exchange of online assets and the business rules by
> > which these assets are shared, such as usage, expiration, updates, etc.
> >
> > Q: How do consumers benefit from ICE-compliant Web businesses?
> > A: Consumers today have millions of Web sites to choose from when
> > looking for information. Unfortunately, this vast choice often results
> > in the frustration of having to surf through many inadequate,
> > narrowly-focused Web sites in order to find what they need. The creation
> > of syndicated publishing networks, Web superstores, and online reseller
> > channels using the ICE specification means that consumers benefit from
> > more complete and easier to use Web destinations.
> >
> > Q: Are there any advantages for Web site developers?
> > A: Web site developers today have no standardized platform for
> > developing sites that leverage assets from other sites in a controlled
> > network exchange. With ICE, developers enjoy more rapid development of
> > networked applications and destinations, while leveraging existing and
> > proposed standards. Most importantly, ICE enables the exchange of
> > structured information no matter what the particular site architecture
> > may be among the network of partners. In short, ice will save web site
> > developer time, money and resources.
> >
> > Q: What roles are Vignette and Firefly playing in the ICE process?
> > A: Vignette, creator of ICE, is a member of the W3C, which is the
> > industry standards consortium responsible for most web-based standards
> > include HTML and XML. Additionally, Vignette is an active member of the
> > W3C working group charged with the XML specification. Firefly is also a
> > member of the W3C and was the driving force behind the creation of the
> > OPS/P3P standard. Vignette and Firefly have volunteered to co-drive the
> > logistics of the ICE working group.
> >
> > Q: How is ICE different from push-technology?
> > A: Push technologies are primarily used for scheduling client
> > applications to pull content. ICE-based systems will enable this but
> > also allow the content source to control its content by proactively
> > sending refreshes and expirations to subscribers without the need to
> > wait for the next refresh cycle. This two-way intelligent exchange
> > clearly differentiates ICE from push.
> >
> > Q: What is the relationship of the ICE ad-hoc working group to the W3C?
> > A: The ICE ad-hoc working group is a group of leading customer-driven
> > companies working to develop the ICE specification. The ICE ad-hoc
> > working group is evaluating various standards bodies, including the W3C,
> > and will submit the specification to the appropriate formal working
> > group within the chosen standard body once the specification had been
> > completed.
> >
> > Q: Why are networked relationships important?
> > A: Businesses are interested in forming networked relationships with
> > their affiliates for a number of reasons. Networked relationships will
> > enable a business to:
> > increase the value of their electronic assets and brand by leveraging an
> > affiliate outlet and expanded audience for those assets;
> > leverage the best content on the Web;
> > build stronger and more profitable online business relationships with
> > strategic companies and affiliates;
> > extend the expertise of affiliate businesses to customers;
> > solidify loyalty among customer base by leveraging joint customers;
> > develop a better understanding of their customers based on customers'
> > relationships with affiliate businesses;
> > offer customers a seamless navigation experience;
> > draw on the combined resources of their affiliates in order to provide
> > end users with highly personalized content.
> >
> > Q: How secure is ICE?
> > A: The ICE working group recognizes the need for the security within the
> > context of the protocol and will be addressing these issues within the
> > process of the working group. However, it is important to note that
> > although security is an important issue in term of networked businesses,
> > the ICE architecture does not primarily focus on that issue. ICE is
> > being designed to be an open architecture that will offer businesses the
> > ability to handle security with their own preferred solution based on
> > other industry standard or proprietary solutions. For example, ICE will
> > enable a business to leverage standards such as LDAP, HTTP for security,
> > or let a business decide to choose a solution that is based on SSL.
> >
> > Q: When will a specification be available?
> > A: The ICE specification will be made publicly available once it is
> > properly submitted and recognized by a leading standards body. At that
> > time, the specification will be posted on various sites across the Web
> > and made available by participating companies.
> >
> > Q: Will ICE make it more difficult for smaller players to create
> > affiliate networks?
> > A: No, ICE actually levels the playing field for smaller businesses
> > because it enables them to create networked affiliate relationships with
> > a minimum of development and administrative resources. Without ICE, only
> > larger businesses had the resources to create these types of networks.
> >
> > In addition, by facilitating the creation of networks, small businesses
> > could band together to compete against larger competitors. For example,
> > a group of small independent booksellers could create an affiliate
> > network in order to compete against book superstores.
> >
> > Q: How do businesses use ICE to determine and set businesses rules by
> > which they share information?
> > A: ICE provides an architecture that gives businesses full autonomy to
> > establish rules for conducting business with each business partner and
> > affiliate. Some examples of these business rules include a determination
> > of what information will be shared; who it will be shared with, who it
> > won't be shared with; an expiration for that information (e.g. duration
> > or page views); and a frequency for updating information.
> >
> > Once these rules have been freely determined, ICE provides an automated
> > way to apply those rules to every transaction and interaction between
> > businesses partners while avoiding timely and expensive human
> > involvement. As a result, ICE allows for more profitable,
> > cost-effective, and efficient way to conduct business online with
> > strategic business partners.
> >
> > Q: Does ICE address copyright issues?
> > A: No. ICE does not directly address copyright issues, however it does
> > provide a much more intelligent way of managing the exchange of and
> > control over information among business partners.
> >
> > Q: Does ICE only apply to E-commerce business networks?
> > A: No. ICE is intended to become a standard for the controlled exchange
> > of information and electronic assets among business partners in a
> > wide-range of markets and industries. E-commerce is an obviously a
> > promising market for ICE, but the standard can have the same impact for
> > online corporate extranets, value-added reseller networks, and
> > syndicated publishing networks, to just name a few. ICE is applicable to
> > any business that places a high-value on its electronic assets, business
> > relationships and competitive advantage.
> ----
> I'd rather be a well-tuned soul with a dysfunctional agent than a
> dysfunctional soul with a well-tuned agent!
> -- Henrik Frystyk Nielsen