National Geographic Global Media on Interactive Media

Stavros Hilaris, VP & Chief Technology Officer for National Geographic Global Media,  offered some ideas, thoughts and feedback regarding interactive media.

What was media like when you were growing up?

Media was all analog years ago; everything from music to video. Physical media was tape based which had limitations in the amount of content that could be stored on tape and the quality.

How has it transformed in just the last 5 years?

There’s been a huge transformation in the past five years.   In the video world the industry has migrated from a videotape-based environment to a digital file based environment supported by commodity IT infrastructures.   The media world is benefiting from all the lessons learned in the IT world.

With respect to the web, web-publishing platforms have vastly improved and consumers in developed countries have the benefit of broadband access, which allows for much higher quality video to be published to the web.

Where do you see interactive media going in the next 5 years?

Quality of content will undoubtedly improve. Content providers will be pushing content, via flexible distribution channels, to amazing handheld devices (better smart phones, color E-readers, etc.). What will the iPod look like in 5 years?  User Generated content will grow as well as user interaction with stories.  The advertising model will certainly evolve as content is distributed ‘virally’ and in other non-traditional ways.

How does it affect your everyday work?

Anticipating the changes that technology and social trends brings and trying to stay ahead of the curve, while staying behind the “technology bleeding edge” makes for a fun job

What are some negative affects of social networking or online networks that you might have experienced either firsthand or seen from afar?

I see many more positives but I guess the only negative could be an influx of information that social networking opens up.  How do you filter the influx of information to see only what’s useful to you?

Do you find the way the web is moving to be integral to your job?

Yes, we’re building more dynamic and interactive applications and moving towards higher quality video and unique stories.

What would you like to see in the future? Not like to see?

Very cool, affordable devices for consuming content. Devices which would make the current iPods seem ancient. They have to be networkable and tie in to home centralized storage systems which could be played out on a large screen or small handheld device with equal levels of quality.

What forms of social media or networking do you participate in?

Linked-In, Facebook and I follow some topics on Twitter. A few thousand tweets are generated each week just on National Geographic programming and publishing topics. Social Networking is so important to National Geographic in terms of awareness of our Mission; to inspire people to care about the planet, that we’re about to hire a VP of Social Networking.

Over the years, what have you seen to be the biggest transformation in different media platforms?

Processing capability and the decreasing cost and increasing capacity of storage has been a huge driver in transforming media platforms for Web Publishing, to Video Editing, Video encoding/transcoding and it helped facilitate the transformation to a digital file based production, post-production and delivery environment.

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