Social Networking – 21st Century Communication

Can you remember a time before social networking? Before the Internet was in practically every home? Can you remember the last time you went into a shop which had an old fashioned till? I can…and it wasn’t that long ago!

People used to meet up face-to-face and talked, made telephone calls and went out to social events and clubs to meet new people. We had few friends and many acquaintances, so how has the internet changed the way we communicate?
I believe, it hasn’t changed the amount of true friends we have, but it has made it so much easier to make new friends and to get to know people a lot more quickly. This means that we are more able to weed out the acquaintances from friends in a much shorter time. The quantity of people that we communicate with throughout our lifetime has increased considerably and is far more diverse than could have been imagined a few decades ago. This communication however is diluted. If you meet and chat with someone on the Internet, it’s probable that you have only been typing your conversation. The words we type, only account for 7% of what we are actually saying. The rest of the meaning is given via body language, tone of voice, and facial expression. So how do you get to really know someone when you can only read their words?

I believe… You can’t! At some point you have to meet.

However, this post is about communication. Social networking has changed the way we get to know each other. It has also changed the emphasis of how we write.
As a writer, I find that I am more comfortable in the social media arena. I write because I like to consider what I’m saying, I like to create beauty in words and I like the luxury of editing. If I’m having a text-based conversation, I like having the ability to write and if I deem it to be badly phrased or not eloquently descriptive I can change or delete it.
For me, this comes from my childhood, I was ridiculed for verbalising the wrong word in the wrong context and feeling a fool. I was enthralled by words from an early age and I used to experiment with them until I learned the correct context, most of the time to the sound of derision from my peers. There was many a time I felt ridiculous because I ‘put my foot in it’. So now, I tend to consider the words I use more carefully, so as to ensure the right meaning is perceived by the reader. Is this a deceit? I don’t think so, it merely portrays me as an online persona that my true friends spent years getting to know via old methods in the olden days and today can take only a few months (depending on how often you are socially online).

Therefore, I believe that social networking shows a more truthful persona. People have to consider what they write, which means the standard of writing will be increased in time and stupidity outs very quickly through text.

The Internet can hide a baddy who seeks to deceive, and for this reason, we all must use it with caution and heed safety and security advice, but it also unmasks the rest of us, which in my opinion can only be for the better!

Comments welcomed!



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The Future of Publishing – A 7 year old’s perspective

by Victoria Southgate

I decided to take a break over Christmas because I spent the months running up to it in, what can only be describe with hindsight as, a disorientating freefall.  2011 provided me with many contacts and the majority of them have been an open resource of information, guidance, advice and support. I have spent months trying to gather all the information I need and just before Christmas I found myself floundering, it is very probable that I was overloaded with information and advice. I needed to decide where I wanted to be, be specific (for the first time in my life) as to what I wanted to achieve. I wanted to create a super-duper business plan/strategy, something that I could refer back to, that would spur me on in the darkest of times, which all start-up businesses go through.

However, I asked for help to do this, so I had a game-plan, but the help wasn’t there. No-one could tell me what I needed to know, nobody else knew what I could do. I had to figure it out for myself! So after months of reassessing my business idea and stressing about what my end game should be, yet never really getting my head around where I am truly going, Christmas was upon me. I went into the Christmas week in a blur. I felt as if I should be doing something, what had I forgotten to do?  Then I realised; Christmas was going to happen anyway, even if I had forgotten something and …did it really matter? It was at that moment I decided to STOP DOING and START BEING.

The first thing I did?… I played with my 7 year old daughter, I allowed myself to be immersed in her world. I discovered how differently she views things. I listened to her; her stories; her songs; her chats with her toys; the games she plays; and I listened to her reading from many different types of books.

It then occurred to me that sitting beside me ‘was’ the future of publishing. It is her generation that will decide how publishing will progress, so I asked her what she prefers to read – Digital or Physical books? Her initial answer was concise, so simple, she simply said “Both!”. So I asked her what she would read in the Physical form and what she would read in Digital format. Her answer was, this time, more considered and intellectually astute… this is what she said:

“I would read Physical fiction books and Digital non-fiction”

her reasoning was this:

“I get more of an experience out of the non-real stories when I read them and feel the book and I can really ‘get into’ the story. And when I want to know and learn about real things, I think it is good to be able to get extra information and it makes learning fun.”

As a 7 year old, she is reading stories that are littered with illustrations, because her ability to read and imagine is still limited even though her reading age is far older than she is. She could easily read text based books, but she would not get as much enjoyment out of them as she does when there is visual stimuli to break up the monotony of text.

My Daughter’s responses to my questions confirms that the Future of Publishing must include Physical Books and Digital Content, working together to create a greater whole.   So beyond wanting to provide creative services for publishing professionals and companies, I have decided that VixenUK’s end game will include collaborating with other companies to produce high quality Physical and Digital products.

I would very much like to hear from anyone who would like to join me to develop a great future for the Publishing Industry.



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Space Events and Xmas Wishes

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Space Events at the House of Commons
By Vix Southgate

My recent foray to London was primarily to attend an event at the House of Commons. This, for me, was to be the final event in the YuriGagarin50 calendar and a reward for a year of hard work. I didn’t aim to go to work or promote, but when the opportunity presents itself – who am I to deny another photo shoot or chance to get ‘Yuri Gagarin – The First Spaceman’ (ISBN 978 190 158 7517 some more publicity and potential sales.!

First was the Media Space event. It was at the beginning of this event that I presented all the winners with a copy of my Gagarin book. I was followed with a brief talk from Adam Afriyie MP (Chair of the Parliamentary Space Committee). Then two very inspirational guest speakers Richard Garriott and Lucy Hawking focused their talks on space exploration and science to the young winners of the Cosmic Futures competition ( I was extremely excited by the speakers. For 3 years I have been working as a writer of science-based children’s books and trying to inspire and engage with children like this in an innovative way. (My successful result being the aforementioned Yuri Gagarin book.) I took the opportunity to speak with Lucy Hawking after the event and concluded that there are many new opportunities that are available for Gagarin and my other planned books.


Once the networking was over, the majority of the attendees of the first event then adjourned to the Members’ Dining Room for the Parliamentary Space Committee’s Christmas Reception. This also included the launch of the National Space Academy (Which is being led by the National Space Centre on behalf of the UK Space Agency, the Science & Technology Facilities Council, the UK Space Education Office (ESERO-UK), and the European Space Agency,)
Anu Ojha, Director of the National Space Academy spoke to the room, followed again by a short talk from Richard Garriott and one of the Cosmic Future winners, 10 year old Rebecca. The rest of the event was networking and catching up with everyone I had met over the past 18 months in relation to YuriGagarin50 ( and through my Gagarin book and work with the British Council.

I thought that this year’s celebration of 50 years of Spaceflight would have a time limit (of the year) and I certainly wasn’t expecting to still be writing book proposals and working on educational resources into 2012 for Gagarin. How wrong I was…

This year I have met at least 3 astronauts; 10+ cosmonauts; Yuri Gagarin’s Daughter; Sergei Korolev’s Daughter, granddaughter and great granddaughter; 2 Ambassadors (though neither offered me Ferrero Rocher!); key people in Space Agencies, top space-related businesses and educational out-reach companies; visited Moscow on invite of the British Embassy; held the ignition key that Korolev used to launch his rockets into space; and I have forged, what I hope will be, long-lasting relationships with many in this sector.

2011 has been an exhilarating year, both business-wise and personally. I began the year wondering how I was going to achieve all my goals and I finish the year having exceeded the goals I set and managed to achieve other challenges that this year has forced upon me, and I have grown and flourished as a result. I thought it would all be over by now, but this is really only the beginning.

2012 is primed and ready for launch… T-13days!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.



Images of R Garriott with my Yuri Book are copyrighted to Michael Cockerham Photography


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Sparks and Embers

Sparks and Embers
By Victoria Southgate

I am currently on a trip to London which is supposed to be a celebration of a fantastic year with my children’s book ‘Yuri Gagarin – The First Spaceman’. Last night I had a free evening and was invited to the Russian Embassy to watch a play about the Holocaust Tragedy but fate had other things in store for me, I was held up and could not get there in time. Instead I went to give my support to a friend who recently started filming his new feature film Sparks and Embers, starring Kris Marshall (Love Actually, My Family, Dr Zhivago) and Annelise Hesme (Moliere, Alexander, Priceless) and ended up being a supporting/walk-on actress for the night. This lit a fire in my soul that the media industry has done for my entire working life.
I worked with Sparks and Embers Director, Gavin Boyter, last year on 3 day shoot for a feature film trailer NITRATE at the Pinewood Studios. I realised that the media industry is one of my basic needs. I worked in the industry for 9 years before my daughter was born and then spent the next 3 years keeping up with my contacts in the industry with a hope of going back. However, I never went back to full time Production Design work but I have managed to keep my hand in and enjoyed every project I have worked on. I find I am not currently able to return full time because the long hours can be tortuous and the physical strain is definitely something for someone without back problems. So, for now, I am happy to simply have ad hoc creative involvement.
But how does this relate to books? – I hear you say. What I have been considering over the past few months, is how to bring my passion for film and TV and integrate it with my passion for the publishing industry. I was most therefore very excited after the FutureBook Conference last week, I now know that a direct relation is possible and I just have to decide the best way forward for my specific business. I am looking to utilise my skills with a view to combine my entire skill-set in the realms of enhanced eBooks. I have a wealth of information and colleagues in the media industry and I am looking to connect their skills with the publishing industry. The benefit to all creative services is immense.
Watch this space.

Follow the Director’s blog of Spark and Embers at

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LAST DAY!! Gagarin Exhibition at Pushkin House

A very good friend of mine, Oleg Tyrkin has got a fantastic exhibition of his “Gagarin” works of digital art on canvas at Pushkin House in Bloomsbury, London.

‘Fourteen digital works on canvas shown in the exhibition “Gagarin” are on display at the Pushkin House in London, 5a Bloomsbury Square.

Oleg Tyrkin is a renowned contemporary Russian Artist. He was born in Vladimir, Central Russia, in 1965. He primarily trained as a military helicopter pilot. His art work has been shown at the Moscow Museum of Modern Art, the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg, The Science Museum in London, the Moscow Biennale of Contemporary art, and many other internationally acclaimed venues and projects.

In this project, Yuri Gagarin is viewed as a phenomenon in the making of history of the relations between the UK and the Soviet Union. The exhibition explores juxtapositions of national interests and eternity, communism and freedom, science and propaganda, simplicity and sophistication.

Earlier this year works by Oleg Tyrkin dedicated to Yuri Gagarin were shown at the Science Museum in London, as part of The UK-Russia Year of Space 2011.’

For more information please see:

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The Future of Publishing

by Victoria Southgate, VixenUK


For the past 2 days I have been processing and contemplating the myriad of information I received at this year’s FutureBook Conference and deciding what I think it means to the future of publishing.

Having only worked in the industry since 2008 (and having had first hand experience of the uncertainty that has shrouded the publishers due to the obvious strides being made in new technology) I was hoping to gain an insight and understanding into how the publishing world’s landscape is changing and how this change affects businesses, freelancers and readers.

There was a consensus of the speakers that ‘Publishers’ are now ‘Publishing’ and to progress in the digital age, publishing businesses have to ‘Add Value’. 

I have spent the last 3 years learning and observing the way in which the industry is having to adjust. The shift from the printed book to the eBook. It is an inevitability that everybody in the publishing industry has to embrace this change, or not survive. What I have experienced over the past 3 years is the uncertainty of all publishers, especially those businesses that have trodden the print path for centuries and know of little else. 

The FutureBook conference speakers, who varied from companies that have been at the forefront of the industry for centuries, to some which have been officially trading for less than six months. Gave me hope that the shift I have been experiencing has reached a turning point. The industry as a whole seems to be more positive that it is a change for the better and I heard very little negativity (but then it was a ‘FutureBook’ conference). 

The companies that are embracing change and adapting to becoming fully digital were very enthusiastic about the positive changes – mostly with regards to the quantity of consumers and the different ways in which consumers will buy and read. However, they did not seem to be interested in what could be lost if there is a complete shift to solely embracing eBooks at the expense of physical books. 

‘I was on the tube and the lady opposite me was reading a physical book. I was able to see what she was reading, read the summary on the back cover and by being able to do so, it inspired me to research the book with a view to purchasing it. I was also sitting opposite a young man with an eReader. The screen was full of text and facing away from me, it could have been any book. I had no similar interest or inspiration.’

This eBook vs Physical book experience was reinforced during the conference when one speaker told of the books he has read this year on his eReader, but he could not name them He could not always remember the name or author of the book whilst reading.

So, not only have we already lost the visual advertising opportunities, the eReader has also lost the visual reminder that an illustrated front cover provides. This is not seen as a negative, however, rather – a potential issue that has to be resolved. (I have some great ideas how – which I will discuss in future posts!)

This, for me as a children’s author and illustrator, is an essential and important part of the reading process! – I agree that, for holidays and the heavy reader, the eReader is invaluable and, in my opinion, is a fantastic replacement for the throw away paperbacks and will save the planets forests, but I would like to see more of an effort made to maintain the physical book.


My conclusion:

Nobody knows where digital technology is going to take publishing, so it is up to the individual companies to carve their own path. I think it will be the innovations of the reading experience, coupled with flexibility and choice, that will win the support of the consumers.

It is a very exciting time to be a new start-up in this industry. Even the large established companies are having to rethink their business models if they are going to survive, and therefore we are all on an even playing field.

I am passionate that Physical books and eBooks MUST be developed as a ‘package’ for the reading ‘experience’ to survive!


My vision of the future of publishing:

eBooks will replace paperbacks and I envision that well-bound hardbacks will be in the homes as bedtime reading, bought as gifts (with the option to download the eBook for free) and as ‘show’ pieces. The quality of the physical book will increase and the eBook will create the flexibility our busy lives require.

Thank you for reading – comments and discussions encouraged!




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VixenUK Blog


Whilst my website is in development, I have decided to blog here.

I hope you enjoy what I have to say on Publishing, Space-related issues and other information related to VixenUK publications.

I aim to blog at least once a week (workload-dependant).

Happy reading!


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