Armen Chakmakjian

Be careful what you cite from the internet…

In College, history, Literature, Random, Science Fiction, wine and whiskey, wow on November 7, 2013 at 4:51 am

So one of the things that a modern computing capability has provided is the ability to search for your electronic footprint. What I see when I google myself is, starting from the top, my LinkedIn profile, then Facebook, then twitter, then YouTube, Scribd and this WordPress blog. There are several other things also. Interesting, but expected.

Then I went over to Google Scholar. I had written and posted a couple of my research papers from my MBA studies as a part of my portfolio and cross referenced those to LinkedIn. I figured that if a prospective employer wanted to poke around and see something beside my science fiction novel, they would find that useful and interesting. I did expect to find the works of various professors Chakmakjian including my cousin, a physicist, as well as the famous chemistry professor from Tufts HH Chakmakjian (father of Alan Hovaness, the composer) to whom I cannot rightly claim to be a relative since I have no evidence. There are also some research done by real doctors Chakmakjian, medical research types that had published some studies. None of my research articles come up, because I never had them published by a journal…so google scholar skips over my work.  Fair enough.

As I said, that was expected; However, what I hadn’t expected was for one of posts on a website in 1997 to be cited…twice.

A post, not a scholarly treatise, not a research paper, just a quick ditty I wrote on the Armenian Language on a website that was gathering info on languages of the world. It never said, this is a scholarly site…it just asked for some info on each language. So figured, what the hell, I’d do it since there wasn’t any entry for Armenian.

At the time (1997) it was so palpable that what I wrote was loose and unscholarly that a bunch of professors of Armenian descent  in California electronically came after me and asked me to state my credentials (and verbally bludgeoned me with their own credentials). I wasn’t trying to cause trouble, nor was I going to claim that I had done research, I just told a story and put it on a site.  The biggest offense I made at the time was conjugating a particular verb incorrectly in the eastern Armenian dialect.  That is what set off the bi-coastal rockets.

Anyway, I didn’t argue with the guys, I immediately apologized and asked the site owner to please take my entry down because I wasn’t trying to offend anyone. I also asked the offended intellectuals to write a similar article that would be much more definitive in place of mine. From what I could tell they never did, it being much more important to attack me, rather than fixing the situation by replacing it with their more learned opinions.

Sometime in the early part of this century, the site went away, probably from lack of interest.

Well, that’s where you get to the title of this post.

Evidently, Google Scholar tells me that my ditty was up there just long enough for 2 different scholarly works to cite this thing I wrote. I mean that thing wasn’t up on the site for more than maybe 6 months…and it did not have references, it was obviously written by a layman telling a story in fable form…why would someone cite that thing in an article about the phonetic shift of Armenians in Jordan. YIKES.

Anyway, all I’m saying is first check your references. If you’re using a web page as a source, well, think about whether that piece of information is worthy of citing. I write a lot of stuff up here, but if I see my blog post on scotch being cited in a historical essay of how the islay scots used seawater to douse fires started by the danes, and then extracted that water from the burnt wood and saved it for a thousand years in a time capsule so that their descendants could use it to make peaty malt in the 1800s, I’m going to be really scared.  Either that, or it confirms my belief that I can use Jedi mind tricks to convince people of things, and that that power extends to my writing on the web 🙂


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