Monday 16 March 2020

Graphistania 2.0 - Episode 5 - This Month in Neo4j


These are interesting times. These are difficult times, but we can deal with it together, as a community, as a graph. So that's why we were super happy that, just as Belgium was going into lockdown last week, we were able to record another Graphistania podcast episode for you, talking about the world in general, but also covering some of the amazing graph use cases that drifted over our screens in the past month, in the This Week in Neo4j (TWIN4J) newsletter.

There were actually many things to talk about, in terms of fascinating graph use cases, and I will highlight only the most striking ones here.
Our friends at Kineviz did some really interesting and timely work on  COVID-19 temporal and spatial data visualization. This stuff is really important to understand, as pandemic spreads clearly follow graph patterns. Read Connected if you are not convinced. 
Worth highlighting: Bloodhound: Windows network penetration testing with Neo4j, had a new release that you might want to take a look at. If you are not familiar with Bloodhound yet, you may also want to check out my interview with the Bloodhound crew on this podcast a while back. 
We published this fun little thing called a Neo4j Treasure Map - check it out! 
Finally - we also have a a Winegraph! It's a great example of importing data from the web using Norconex.  
Some interesting stuff on using Neo4j for Gene ID mapping: take a look! 
Another examle of enriching graphs with Wikidata, from the one and only Mark Needham: look at Mark's blog over here! 
Don't forget: we Introduced the Neo4j Graph Data Science plugin with examples from the "Graph Algorithms" book
A really interesting tweet about a visualisation of the US Supreme court as a graph db... Would love to see more like that. 
And for some fun: Pok├ęgraph: Gotta Graph 'Em All! 
Some important stuff: we did a great 4.0 webinar that is giving you a lot of info on what to expect in the new version of Neo4j.  
There was a great update to NeoMap: Visualizing shortest paths with neomap ≥ 0.4.0 and the Neo4j Graph Data Science plugin.
Those were the most important ones. So let's talk about these now - I am sure there's a lot of cool stuff here fore everyone!

RVB: Hello, everyone. My name is Rik Van Bruggen from Neo4j, and here I am again recording another Graphistania podcast episode, version 5 of this new format that we devised the end of last year. And so that means that I've got my dear friend Stefan Wendin on the other side of this recording. Hi, Stefan.

SW: Hello, Rik. Nice to meet you again virtually. And also nice to meet all of you that actually go here and listen, so also hi to you. And yeah, let's do it.

RVB: From me too. Very good. Hey, Stefan, we're 13th of March when we record this. My country has just been locked down in Belgium. I think there's a lot of stuff happening in the rest of the world, but we wanted to get together anyway, right? We wanted to record this thing to make sure that we keep calm and carry on.

SW: Yeah. No, but I think, as you said, keep calm, carry on. And I think also the beauty of this kind of situation, if I'm allowed to use such a word in this tragic time, but this also tends to bring out not only the worst-- we see the worst. We see people panicking. But we also see a lot about people taking care and really helping each other, listening for once, and doing those kind of things. So it is also a very beautiful time, and this is why I'm super grateful to be here and sharing back to the community.

RVB: Same here. Same here. I mean, maybe we can talk about this a little bit more, right? We had some really interesting developments this week. First of all, we had GraphTour London. You were there. I was there in the Queen Elizabeth Centre in downtown London. That was a peculiar experience, right?

SW: Yeah. Instead of those thousand people-- it was supposed to be a big event, but I think the peculiar one was that every single one that was there, they were super interested also. And then of course--

RVB: It was great.

SW: Yeah. No. So for me, when I look back on my talk, which is also recorded-- I did say the F word, so there's going to be a little bit of beeping in there. Sorry, marketing team, for that. That's just who I am. I haven't done it in this call, though. This is good.

RVB: Not yet.

SW: Yeah. No, but I think-- actually, don't get me started here. No, but I think one of the really cool things is you could really feel that those people that were there, they were also very interested, right? And so I think the one that I did was one of my best ones just because of that. You can really also feel the seriousness, but also in that, it's also good the little bit of laughing at those things as well. So thank you all for showing up, the brave ones, on GraphTour.

RVB: I thought it was a-- I thought it was a great event after all. And unfortunately, we've had to make some other announcements afterwards, right? So we had to cancel some of the other stops in the GraphTour. We've had to move them online, basically, right? So Munich, Paris have been moved online, and that's unfortunate, but it's the right thing to do, right? At the end of the day, this is all about flattening the curve, as they say, right, and making sure that this outbreak stays under control. 
SW: I think we're trying to do our thing. 

RVB: And we've also had to make quite a drastic decision to cancel the GraphConnect event in New York. That was announced yesterday. So some really, really important and radical things happening, but at the same time, there's also really great things happening. I mean, we ended the last podcast episode basically asking people for some of their feedback and some of the cool things that they saw, and I think we've got some really great input, haven't we?

SW: Yeah. Yeah, yeah. You say these kind of things, and then you wonder, "Will anyone actually listen to the podcast in the first place?" Obviously, this is something we can track, so we know that they do it, but I, at least, always have this innate feeling like, "Oh, did I say something smart now, or did I just sound like a drunk?" I guess sometimes we do when we laugh, right? But the interesting part, I got several things from some more on the kind of-- more in the borderline business tech people, right, the people like me that are a little bit nerdy, but they still belong to the business side, right? And they all asked me for like, "How do we kind of add data from the rest of the world? How do we find it? Where can we find it?" a lot of those kind of questions. And when we looked upon our list of these kind of cool use cases, there were actually two of them showing already up here. So this is also this reminder of, "Great mind think alike," in a sense, right? We didn't even prep them, or at least, I didn't. I don't know if you--

RVB: I didn't either. No, no.

SW: --bribed them. No? No? So--

RVB: Not this time.

SW: Yeah. Exactly. So I saw two which I liked was was, first, the one from Mark Needham about enriching an existing graph by querying Wikidata, which is a, obviously, fantastic example again of making it even better. And there was also this other one which is kind of legendary, and this is also, I guess, legendary because you are the master of the beer graph, right? Check that out if you haven't. This is how I got into Neo. It was the beer graph. It was not the [inaudible]. It was a little bit of those as well, but. It was this thing of the wine graph and importing data from the web, crawling using Norconex, a Neo4j, basically, to kind of crawl the web, so this idea of scraping. I think it's also good that it also touched upon the topic of being a good internet citizen, right, not just scrape [inaudible] and behave badly. This is not the cool way to do it. But try to do it and try to kind of remove frictions or try to add value for people and you will have followers, and you will have more users or customers if you may like. So I think those were two of the ones which just showed up there on time, and I think it was just so beautiful. So thank you, guys, for reaching out, asking for examples on these. So please look into those.

RVB: Super. Great.

SW: How do you feel about the wine stuff? Are you feeling competitive? No? Are we going to see a 3.0 of the beer graph, right? You just did an update. We talked about it last time with the--

RVB: Yes, I did.

SW: --4.0 stuff. Yeah.

RVB: Yeah. No. I mean, I love the wine graph, and we've some versions of it in the past as well. There's also a whisky graph that I've seen in the past, and there's quite a few nice alcoholically-inclined graph examples, so that's all great. But I mean, I also spotted a couple of really interesting other examples in the past couple of weeks in the TWIN4j this week, the Neo4j newsletter. One of them that obviously caught my attention was all around the visualisation of the COVID evolution, the COVID-19 evolution. One of our partners, Kineviz, Kineviz - I don't know how you pronounce it - they actually had some really cool visualisations that I'll put into the transcription as well. And then the one that I haven't seen any much detail on, but I really liked it, is a visualisation of Supreme Court appointments in the graph DB, the US Supreme Court obviously being a really important institution. There was this guy that published how all of the different justices in the Supreme Court-- how they are related to one another, how they are appointed. 

And it's kind of another example of how just putting this structure of the graph on top of this data immediately starts giving you more insights. I mean, I've had this experience so many times, right? I've had it with beers. I've had it with all kinds of other data sets, but this one was another example that I was like, "Wow, the power of the graph is shouting at me again." It's a really good example, so I'll put that one up there as well.

SW: Yeah. I think both those are also on a bigger kind of level, right? Those are important, I guess, for societies and humanities. We covered a couple of these before in the podcast. But that kind of Supreme Court stuff is also one of those-- every country should just have this. They should almost be mandatory to see what is going on and so on. Just to also touch upon that which I now was unsure how to pronounce, but let's call it the visualisation case then of COVID, I remember being on a client - and I think this is two weeks back or a week back, right? - and I have the client saying, "Oh, have you done anything on this? This should be super graph to do." And at the time, I honestly didn't know. There was not so much about this in Sweden where I do live. But then, of course, I checked the community, and all of a sudden, there was a couple of really great ones showing up. This one shows up, of course. There's also other ones. We got one from [APEC?] which is also really good. And I think this is also the power it shows me of the community. So again, stressing this, in times of these, let's stay together as a community. And again, I will encourage you that listens to ping me on LinkedIn or send me an email if there is something you want to know more about or, "I would really like to hear something in this," or, "I'm struggling with that." And I think this is interesting because we might not meet in person, but let's try to use the digital tools then and take this as an opportunity to move forward. So again, reach out.

RVB: There's a positive side to this, right? There's a positive side to all this, and we can exit stronger, yeah, if we do it the right way. Cool. Hey, Stefan, what I'm going to do is I'm going to put some of the links to these posts in the transcription once we publish this, right, lots of really cool reading material and examples of the wonderful world of the graph, right? And then we'll hopefully get some more feedback from our listeners for our next episode next month, right?

SW: Let's see where the journey takes us. And yeah.

RVB: Let's see.

SW: And again, super thankful to taking the time doing this with you, Rik. It's, as I said before, one of the highlights of the month because it kind of really-- no, but it's true, actually, because it's allowing me to kind of block the time in my calendar and sit down and look upon all the cool and amazing things that are going on, because it's so easy to just kind of take away those things. It's like, "I'm just going to go on that conference call."

RVB: I agree.

SW: "I'm just going to do that meeting with that client. I'm just going to do that thing." But then you kind of miss this. So for me, this is just about the same thing as training that we talked about at that breakfast the other day. Sometimes you don't feel like it, but then you do it, and it's like, "Wow, it feels really good, right?" So yeah, thank you for that.

RVB: Same here, my friend. I'm thankful to you as well. Thank you for listening as well, everyone, and we'll talk next month, for sure. All the best. Stay safe, and talk to you soon.

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