Mobile Electronic Documents with Interacting Agents
SPP-ICS 5003-45332


MEDIA is an umbrella project coordinating the individual projects HyperNews, KryPict, and ASAP, which are supported by the Swiss Priority Programme for Information an Communication Structures (SPP-ICS). The objective of MEDIA is to develop a system for the commercial distribution of electronic documents under similar conditions as printed documents, using an agent-based, distributed and secure platform.

The MEDIA projects aim at developing the means that will allow protection, retrieval and dissemination of electronic documents under similar conditions as printed documents and, in addition, offering to readers of electronic documents all the advantages of electronic information processing technology, like searching of documents depending on the reader's interests, establishing links between related documents, and interacting with the documents. To achieve this, the MEDIA projects combine the expertise and know-how of different Swiss and European research and industrial organizations, including a commercial publisher (L'Hebdo), a museum (Swiss Paper Museum, Basel) and a Software house specialized in computer security (DCT, Zürich).

Commercialization of electronic documents

The major difference in the commercialization of electronic documents versus printed documents is the ability of the reader to reproduce copies of the document. With printed documents there are practical limitations for copying, modifying or re-distributing. For example it is very expensive, if not impossible, to modify the contents of a printed document without leaving traces; furthermore copying, for example, a book is, in general, more expensive than buying a new copy. In addition even if the printed document is passed from one person to another there is still one single copy of it. Electronic documents on the other hand can be easily modified, copied, and distributed to many persons without the original owner loosing his own copy and without need to inform or even get authorization from the publisher of the document. Although there exist techniques allowing one to control the integrity of a document and authenticate its publisher unambiguously, the major problem relies in the ability to create and distribute unauthorized copies of the document at virtually no cost. This is eventually the major reason why commercial intellectual work, like books, rarely appear in electronic form.

Traditionally, electronic documents are seen as a collection of data that include the document contents (text, images etc.) and possible simple formatting instructions. The reader of the electronic document has all the software needed for displaying the data. The MEDIA project however takes a different direction and views electronic documents as programs that need to be interpreted in order to visualize their contents. The reader does not have a simple data-displaying software but an interpreter for the language in which the electronic documents are written. Since the electronic documents are programs that the reader must execute (in order to read them), the document producer can include code not only defining the structure of the information and how it should be displayed, but also interacting with the reader asking, for example, authorization passwords, verifing the integrity of its contents, decrypting sensitive parts of the document, allowing the reader to interrogate it and obtain basic information about its contents, and even sending messages through the network to the document publisher.

The MEDIA projects

The MEDIA project is composed of three related interdependent projects with well defined targets. These three projects are HyperNews, KryPict and ASAP.

HyperNews: The goal of the HyperNews project is to develop a pilot application for the commercial distribution of electronic documents. The target application is an electronic newspaper that support the commercial distribution of news over the WWW network;

KryPict: The goal of the KryPict project is to develop copyright enforcement and document authentication methods that will support digitally watermarking of images. The digital watermarking methods will be included into a target pictorial database subsystem; digitally watermarked images from this subsystem will be encapsulated into the ASAP agents and made accessible through the MEDIA user-interface;

ASAP: The goal of ASAP is to deliver an execution platform that supports development of applications based on mobile software agents. This technology will be an infrastructure for developing commercial information systems in large scale, dynamic and heterogeneous networks of computers.


A complete and up to date list of publications of the MEDIA projects can be found here.


Dr. Dimitri Konstantas

University of Geneva
Centre Universitaire d'Informatique
24 rue Général-Dufour
CH-1211 Genève, Suisse


Tel : +41 (22) 705.7664
Fax: +41 (22) 705-7780