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A Game of Scales, or When Quantity Changes Quality

12 December 2004
Denise Pumain
Cet article est une traduction de :
Jeux d’échelles, ou quand la quantité change la qualité

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1The die is cast.  The economic and urban fever has taken over China.  In the course of the year 2004, which France dedicated to China, the media have become aware of the new international role of the country.  After the Heaven of Luxembourg, but before the United States, China, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, has now become the primary destination in the world for foreign investment.  Two-figure rates of growth have always been the dream of speculators and other seekers after short-term profits.  But they take on an entirely different significance when applied to the economy of a country of more than a billion inhabitants, at least with reference to certain sectors and certain cities.  Does the nation’s internal heterogeneity present a challenge?—a question that also faces the recently-enlarged European Union—, and if so, will it be resolved on the same terms, on the scale of this near-continent?  Geography often claims that problems change in nature when they are related to entities of greater dimensions:  here is a fascinating subject of investigation for the decade that is before us.

2There is another area in which changes in spatial and temporal scale will very likely bring about as yet unclear changes in quality: that is, the development of the most rapid forms of communication.  If we are to judge by the latest observations of the Internet network, European borders will now only reduce those exchanges between neighbouring countries that make use of these methods by a factor of two, while the “classic” flux, residential migrations or transport of merchandise crossed borders with reduction-coefficients ranging from six to fourteen, depending on the studies, the regions and the authors.  Cybergeo is playing a modest role in this general opening up, in the realm of scientific information:  the journal is now recording more than a thousand connections (‘hits’) per day.

3Beginning in January 2005, Cybergeo will at last be listed, along with 10,000 other publications, in the SCOPUS bibliographical database developed by Elsevier, which will also make possible a citation-count for articles by every author.  We hope that this new service will encourage even more authors to publish articles whose impact they will henceforth be able to measure.  Should we, too, change our scale?  As our primary objective remains the maintenance of quality, we invite you to read the new articles that have been put online, and to visit the column Cybergeo accueille (Cybergeo welcomes), which has just been enriched by a colloquium on water and an Atlas of South India..

4The editorial board wishes you happy reading, and sends you very best wishes for 2005.

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Denise Pumain, « A Game of Scales, or When Quantity Changes Quality », Cybergeo : European Journal of Geography [En ligne], Éditoriaux, mis en ligne le 12 décembre 2004, consulté le 22 juin 2018. URL :

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Denise Pumain

Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne,UMR Géographie-cités,

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