BY ARMEN MOURADYAN
Armenian Navigator, a project implemented by Yerevan Productions, is now available not only on Imyerevan.com, but also in the form of mobile applications for iOS and Android. This means that the information the application collects about Armenian hotspots worldwide will be available to a much wider range of users. Armenian Navigator is a free online database that promotes Armenian places in the world. Eduard Ayanyan, head of Yerevan Productions, is certain the project will be one more step towards achieving unity amongst Armenians across the globe, eliminating geographic, political, and social divisions that exist within the diaspora.
When did you have the idea of creating Armenian Navigator?
The idea for the project came about a few years ago. It was initiated by entrepreneur and philanthropist Gor Nahapetyan. There are many Armenians scattered across the globe and the traces of their activity can be found in almost every country. At the same time, the “Yerevan” magazine already contained a heading titled “Armenian navigator,” which published briefly on Armenian-related places outside of territorial Armenia. However, the magazine was not able to give the project the breadth and scope it deserved. Thus, when the company Yerevan Productions launched its new portal, Imyerevan.com, it was decided to devote separate section to creating an Armenian world map. Our team began collecting and gathering information about the different countries and cities: churches, schools, monuments, streets with Armenian names, shops, art galleries, restaurants, and many more. We are curious about what Armenians are doing outside of Armenia. For example, in some remote regions of Russian or American, we found hotels with names like “Urartu” or cafe “Aragil.” Our maps, depicted below, display the exact locations and information about these spots and as a result, we have started to acquire a rather comprehensive collection. However, this is only the beginning, and we are eager to expand.
Is it possible to collect all information about Armenian sites around the world with through the efforts of only one team?
Naturally, we have limits to the information we are able to gather. We have collected and analyzed information on about 1,000 different sites in 344 cities around the world and published the data on Imyerevan.com in three languages: Armenian, Russian and English. In the beginning, we were greatly directed by Rafael Hovhannisyan’s project, “Armenian monuments of the World,” which contained a lot of useful information. We were also aided by others, who sent information and photos of different countries and cities of the world. Today, the project is now available not just on the web, but also in the form of a mobile application. This encourages users to become active participants in the project. They can add to our list, add photos, in a similar manner as Wikipedia. Therefore, anyone with a smartphone is a contributer and correspondent. The app can also add users’ information and photos from their experiences at these Armenian sites in the world. If somewhere in Hungary, you stumble upon a small Armenian restaurant not already mentioned in Armenian Navigator, in just a few seconds, with the help of your phone, you can add all the information about the property in the database. Moderators will check it quickly, and your information will be accessible to all.
What can a mobile application give to Diaspora Armenians and Armenians living in Armenia?
A trilingual application such as this one means that it will be accessible to most Armenians across the globe. Armenian Navigator helps to inform people what kind of Armenian facilities are available in a particular country and a particular city before you even arrive. Let’s say you have decided to visit Austria. It’s clear that, in Austria, there are plenty of stunning sights. But among other things, it’s interesting that in Austria there are Armenian sites. Thus, when you come to Vienna, you can run the Armenian Navigator application, and in seconds, you can see a list of Armenian-related sites and spots, and see them on the map, all within your vicinity; the Mkhitaryan Congregation, a shop that sells a famous liquor made by monks, the first coffee house in Vienna (founded by an Armenian), Armenian churches, monuments and so on. At the same time, during the course of your travels, you may stumble upon something that is not in the Armenian Navigator, and you can add it to the list.
As for diasporan Armenians, they are well aware of the Armenian places in their regions. The Armenian Navigator provides them a world map where their community and activities can be fully represented to Armenians everywhere. In this sense, the Navigator can be a useful platform because we can receive first-hand information.
The application has been created not only as a travel guide for Armenian enthusiasts, but also for people who want to enhance their knowledge about what’s going on in the rest of the world and present information about the history of their contemporary Armenian communities. As a result, we obtain a single Armenian information field. Furthermore, this can assist Armenians also in networking and establishing business contacts, helping them search for partners in other countries.
This is all great, but how interesting or useful will this application be for people of other nationalities?
There are people who are interested in Armenian culture and history of the Armenian people. There are people who have Armenian friends and many are very fond of Armenian cuisine. Armenian restaurants are a special category for some travelers, and I know that in Jerusalem, among other things, there are restaurants of Armenian cuisine. Therefore, this will be pretty interesting information for them. I can assure you that there are a lot of enthusiasts among people of other nationalities, who will share their information about the Armenian places in the world. In general, all information contained in the application, will also be useful to journalists, sociologists, historians, writers, and even those who are working on research related to Armenia and Armenians.
How do you intend to expand the application Armenian Navigator and what are your plans for its development?
Armenian Navigator is completely free. The application is available for download in the AppStore and PlayMarket. We are constantly working on its development and we are grateful for any comments and suggestions related to its functionality. Together, we are establishing the Armenian world map and everyone can make a contribution; as an application tester, as a volunteer working on the updated information in the database, or as a correspondent for the traveling who discovers new places for the map. I believe that with joint efforts, very soon we will have a full and detailed map of the world with the “Armenian accent.” Knowing about each other is what it means to be strong.