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1Every writer wants to be read, and with the advent of electronic journals contributors can now count their readers. The new technology in fact provides several pieces of audience information. Displayed on the Cybergeo homepage is the number of people who have connected to the journal since it was launched in April 1996: the total for three years is 60,000 and is expanding exponentially (10,000 in 1997, 42,000 in 1998, and an average of 2,500 a day so far in 1999). The content of these visits can also be measured. In 1997, a total of 68,000 pages were viewed and 258,000 requests made, and the figures for the following year were 194,000 pages and 731,000 requests. The 'average' visitor stays for slightly longer than three minutes, downloads between four and five pages and makes fifteen requests (clicking on an icon or on a key-word equals one request).
2Another question we can answer concerns the geographical distribution of the readers. For roughly a third of them the location cannot be identified. 40% are in France, slighly more than 10% in North America (including nearly 3% in Canada), 10% in other European countries (over 1% each for Belgium, Switzerland Spain, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom), 1% in South America. The proportion from distant locations is growing, though slowly.
3The time of day when visits are most frequent is also known. More than two-thirds occur in the afternoon, with a peak between 12.00 and 13.00 and again between 17.00 and 18.00. We could of course go on to draw up a league table of the most visited areas and the most frequently downloaded pages. But statistics tell only part of the story, and what matters ultimately is what each reader gets out of the visit, in terms of new information and shared understanding. In this respect too electronic publishing has innovated, in a way whose full potential remains to be realized and whose implications for scientific research we are only just beginning to explore. The online reader is no longer simply a passive receiver of information, but has the possibility of communicating with an author more directly, more easily and faster than was ever possible with traditional means of publication. The statistics show that this practice is still in its infancy and has yet to become widely accepted. Yet this is certainly electronic publishing's most exciting and important contribution _ employed intelligently, it offers a real opportunity for a more democratic access to scientific inquiry.
4Written with the collaboration of Ky Nguyen.
Pour citer cet article
Denise Pumain, « Cybergeo's audience », Cybergeo : European Journal of Geography [En ligne], Editoriaux, mis en ligne le 12 mai 1999, consulté le 26 mai 2013. URL : http://cybergeo.revues.org/7184Haut de page
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