Tuesday 11 May 2021

Graphistania 2.0 - The one with all the GraphStuff

Yes! Here's another great Neo4j podcast episode for you. I hope you will enjoy it -  just as much as I enjoyed recording it with Stefan.

Note that I have put all the interesting links together at the very bottom of the post. They all come from the Twin4j newsletter - to which you should all subscribe, obviously!

Here's the transcript of our conversation:

RVB: 00:00:44.353 Hello, everyone. My name is Rik, Rik Van Bruggen from Neo4j, and yes, it's that time again. We are recording another Graphistania Neo4j podcast. And on the other side of this Zoom call is my dear partner in crime, Stefan, Stefan Wendin. How are you, man?
SW: 00:01:05.215 Always good. Always good meeting up, doing this with you, Rik. It's one of the favourites of the month. And I don't know, what can be better, talking about graphs with your best friend Rik in a sunny southern part of Sweden? Amazing. So good to go.
RVB: 00:01:22.239 Good to go. Fantastic. Great to have you here. And actually, we need to specify one thing, right, before we move on to the real topic of our podcast recording.
SW: 00:01:33.190 Oh, yeah.
RVB: 00:01:34.583 There is competition in town. Uh-oh.
SW: 00:01:37.307 Oh my God, so sweaty now. How can we handle this?
RVB: 00:01:42.297 Yeah. Well, I'm so happy about that. Our friends from the Developer Relations Team in Neo4j, Will Lyon and Lju Lazarevic, they've created a GraphStuff.FM podcast. Great, isn't it?
SW: 00:01:59.885 Yes. It's amazing. However, I think it's a little bit of a tongue-twister. You see? Even thinking about that URL made me stumble on my words. But I'm super stoked to hear what they're doing. I think it will be very interesting to follow, but it's also an opportunity for us to kind of bump up what we do, which is super neat. I like it. I can totally see how we can kind of evolve and co-exist in this space. So super neat.
RVB: 00:02:32.822 Very happy about that. And actually, the only thing that I kind of--
SW: 00:02:38.127 Oh, kind of. [laughter]
RVB: 00:02:38.937 No. [laughter]
SW: 00:02:39.662 Now it comes, the grumpy man.
RVB: 00:02:40.573 I'm not resentful of it. I'm actually super happy and stoked about it. But their logo, did you see their logo?
SW: 00:02:48.437 Yeah. It reminded me of something. [laughter] It looks like it might have been stolen from some-- or maybe, no, no, no--

RVB: 00:02:55.081 No, it's borrowed. [Right?]?
SW: 00:02:55.676 --inspired, inspired. That's what we call it in the creative domain. Right? Inspired by a master of graphic design. Who is that master? It might be you. Right? You did a T-shirt with this. When was it and for what?
RVB: 00:03:10.268 Well, this was when I started the podcast a long time ago, just doing silly things on Qcon. Inspired by the master, puppet master, Michael Hunger, I created T-shirts for a GraphConnect conference. It was a GraphConnect conference in San Francisco. And they were butt-ugly T-shirts, yellow with green letters on it, but it had a logo on it that is exactly like the GraphStuff logo. [laughter] It's kind of cool to see that come back now, and I'm actually quite happy about that. It's a nice thing.
SW: 00:03:48.344 Yeah. Maybe it's like with all fashions. Right? Usually, you say that everything goes in cycles. Right? The graph cycles, however, seem to be faster than regular fashion recycling. Usually, that goes on - what is it? - like a 20-year period. So you can say you're kind of retro cool. I don't know if that was a good or a bad thing. Sorry for that, but--
RVB: 00:04:12.395 I will remind my daughter to say that [laughter]--
SW: 00:04:16.271 Oh, yeah.
RVB: 00:04:17.307 --I'm retro cool. Exactly.
SW: 00:04:19.765 Great.
RVB: 00:04:20.196 And actually, we have a new logo at Neo4j as well, right, which is kind of inspiring. So lots of cool stuff here.
SW: 00:04:28.572 Very good. The tricky part now is to update all the decks. Right?
RVB: 00:04:33.579 Oh my God?
SW: 00:04:34.068 So for all of you that can see my presentations when I do keynotes, sorry if I haven't had time to update it. I'm doing my best, but there is always that tiny little thing that you forget. Right?
RVB: 00:04:46.375 Exactly.
SW: 00:04:46.565 But I think the logo is good. It's super neat, a lot clearer to see it. And also, it reminds me a little bit of NASA, so that's good. So what can possibly be bad with that? So thanks a lot for that.
RVB: 00:05:00.620 So I wanted to talk about two big things really today. First of all, I mean, obviously, this week in Neo4j newsletter, which is kind of like our theme here on the podcast. Right? There's been a lot of great, great technical stuff coming up, but there's also been a lot of use cases that really, really fascinate me. So I wanted to talk a little bit first about the technical stuff. There's a lot of really cool links that I'm going to include in the transcription, obviously. But I've seen a fantastic number of articles, for example, relating to how we can integrate or bring together the property graph world with the RDF world. Is that something that you hear with clients a lot, like you've encountered a lot?
SW: 00:05:50.260 Yeah. I think also it's one of the ones that keep popping up, "What are the differences?" And it's easy to explain it on a very high level, but then you need a bigger knowledge. And I think the post that Jesús wrote on this-- again, he is always happy to go on calls with me to kind of do this. So I think it's super good. Also, it covers a lot of similarity stuff, which is, for you that knows me, one of my favourite topics as well. So I think it's very good to see how and where to use what kind of tool. Right?
RVB: 00:06:32.894 Yeah, I agree. And it's a little bit similar, I think, to the conversation that's happening in the industry around another topic that is related to graphs, but it's not the same conversation, which is actually the conversation around GraphQL. Right? For those of you that have been following the industry a little bit, Facebook brought out this new way of interfacing with applications, which is based on their internal standard called GraphQL. But we've actually released some products around that now, recently, some new open-source and free products that plug on to the Neo4j graph database and that really help people build these GraphQL applications in a much more quick way. I really like that.
SW: 00:07:29.669 Yeah. And I think all of these kind of-- how things in such a rapid pace now get easier and easier, right, or it's easier to do more, right, because of these things. It ranges anywhere from kind of the no-code trend to the low-code or APIs making things accessible. But I think it's just a mad-- it's just fantastic to see how this space kind of grows and how it allows for a lot of stupid ideas, right, because at the end, for me, that is what innovation is all about. Right? Basically, trying ten stupid ideas, one will perfectly be that most amazing one, as always. Right? Six will be more than pure crap, and three will be kind of lukewarm. Right? So the more I'm allowed to try, the more successful I will be. And then I just basically ignore the other nine and never tell anyone about those and just try and-- right? No. But I think it's super neat to see it and see how it also evolved and grow into what it becomes. So nice.
RVB: 00:08:41.181 Very cool. Maybe one more technical highlight that I'd like to mention, and it's actually something that I've seen with a lot of clients as well, which is all around the versioning of graphs. Right? So people see that quite often, that they want to not just look at the state of the graph, but they want to understand how is the graph evolving, how is it moving from one state to the next state? And that's actually something that we've seen quite often. It's a very common request. And it's not that difficult to build it into your data model. But again, if you have some tools to help you with that, it becomes so much more trivial. Right? And there's this tool called the Neo4j versioner that's really-- it's by a couple of our Italian community members. That is really, really useful for that. So we'd love for people to take a look at that.
SW: 00:09:41.748 Super cool. And this is actually one of the ones that I missed, being busy as we are, but I know that I have, [out of my bat?], like ten clients that would really love this because it's a very, very common discussion. So again, this is also why this podcast and digging into these are amazingly cool because there is so much happening in this space, so it's hard to keep track of all of them. So super neat to see this. I'm going to send it to those clients, but I will not mention it. This is like Swedish television. We're not saying any logos or trademarks. [laughter] Right?
RVB: 00:10:20.828 Yeah, exactly.
SW: 00:10:21.377 That's where I'm born and drilled.
RVB: 00:10:23.681 There were a bunch of other really great technical articles. I'll include them in the transcription. But I think we might want to have a quick chat about non-technical topics that have been coming up in This Week in Neo4j and This Month in Neo4j newsletters. Actually, it's all about value, it's all about use cases, and how people implement really innovative supply chain use cases, manufacturing analytics use cases, clickstream analysis use cases, things that really inspire people to be very innovative, like you were saying earlier, but then do it in a way that is really adding huge amounts of new value to their infrastructure. And that's actually a really critical point, right, because when you're implementing new technology like Neo4j, understanding the value case is probably the most important and most difficult thing to achieve. How do you deal with that in your work?
SW: 00:11:36.628 Ooh, this is a Pandora's box. Do you got 25 hours? No, but seriously, this is one of my favourite topics. Right? I love playing with technology. It's awesome. However, I like to get a salary, meaning that if I cannot prove that people are actually reducing friction or creating value with the technology, I'm not allowed to come up with more new stupid ones. So I think this is also something that I see the need growing as the space maturing, right, because in the beginning, we had this newcomers that was very technical [to?] understand this and kind of define how to use graphs. But as more and more creative use cases shows up, it becomes kind of harder for people because the period from table to graph, if you may say so, it's almost shorter nowadays, I would argue, because the availability and what you can do. So it becomes almost trickier in that sense, not able-- or people are not being able to kind of understand or justify that part.
SW: 00:12:53.412 But I tend to look upon this from three perspectives always. Right? One part is if it's a good fit for graphs, right, basically from analytical or transactional kind of standpoint, right, then what I tend to do is I also look upon this kind of, does it make any money? Right? Because there's a lot of talk of budget, but I always state, like, "If I have $1, goes into my magical machine and out comes $10 - and it's a low risk; I have unlimited budget - this is not a budget discussion. As long as that equation stays true, it's all about the value it creates." Right? And at the end, it's user, user, user. How does this change the end user and their behaviour? Does it remove friction in the way they work? Do they work faster or is it easier? If all of those are true, this is a good fit. Right? And trying to figure that out can be hard because very often we are stuck in old mental models that needs to be refreshened. But again, this is a topic that we can spend a lot of time talking about. Do you want to cover any of the specific use cases? There's a nice one on supply chain.
RVB: 00:14:09.244 Yeah, why don't we? I mean, like supply chain, there was a really, really great example around supply chain analytics, which is fascinating. Right? In a world where huge boats like the Ever Given gets stuck in the Suez Canal, all of a sudden, people are paying attention to this. "Oh, where are the bottlenecks in my supply chain?" and, "How do I deal with those?" and, "How do I identify those?" and, "How do I find workarounds when something like that happens?" It's a really interesting one. And I think if you're into this particular use case, for example, the key thing that I would be looking for is to try and make the added value but also the potential risks and costs as quantifiable as possible. "How do I quantify this?" Not just talk about, "This is going to make it more qualitatively better," but just also try to come up with numbers, come up with specific data that you can point to when you want to solve the supply chain problems with graphs. That's the key thing to me.
SW: 00:15:20.117 Yeah, I know. I'm going to double-down on that. I think it's so true. We all know that inside our head, everything is perfect, right, because it's all relative and all flexible in there. Right? But the thing is, even if you just have a hard time starting doing it, one of the things that I really like, just use any simple format. Just do a Post-it or whatever. Just write down something because something is better than nothing. If you disagree with what you wrote down, okay, good, then you know what's wrong with it. Right? Another one down. [So?] start doing that. And I think that's the tricky part. You don't know what to put down as a quantifiable metric, so you put some fluffy things. But just put some fluffy and then nudge toward clearer and clearer, I think, yeah. No, but that's super true. And if we talk about the supply chain, this is also one of the ones that I think every other week I work with this. So basically, every other week, I work with supply chain, and the other week, I work with, I guess, pharma or life science. So it's two of those use cases that literally bloomed during this year-- last year, I think, at least in my world.
RVB: 00:16:38.068 Yeah. But I think maybe this is also something that we can ask our listeners for some feedback, right, because these value cases, I think they're becoming so much more important for graph adoption and graph projects in general. So if people have any kind of ideas or feedback around this, it would really, really be lovely if we could have a chat about that, maybe even invite some people onto the podcast, and we discuss it in the next couple of months. For us, it's a topic that we would like to explore a little bit more. Me and Stefan have been talking about this for so many months now that we're thinking about exploring it more during these sessions. So if people have any input or questions or just want to have a chat about it, please reach out, and then we can probably make this a bigger topic and a useful topic for our community.
SW: 00:17:35.907 Yeah. I think that would be super good. And also, like a shout-out to this, if you don't feel like speaking in the podcast, if you don't know what to say, but you think, "Oh, I might have something," just ping us. We are friendly, and it's just easy, flexible conversation that's going to happen. And then we pull it together and make something nice of it and share it if you agree.
RVB: 00:17:59.753 Super.
SW: 00:18:00.664 Great.
RVB: 00:18:02.082 Stefan, thank you again for doing this session with me. It's been a good one again. And we'll put a lot of pointers to great articles on the transcription. Obviously, it's been a joy talking to you. Thanks again, and I look forward to the next session already.
SW: 00:18:18.963 Yes. See you later, alligator.
RVB: 00:18:21.628 I'll talk to you later, Stefan. Bye.
SW: 00:18:23.335 Bye.

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All the best


Here's a list of the fascinating links that I found in the This Week in Neo4j newsletter:

March 6th: This Week in Neo4j - Semantic similarity metrics, Virtuoso SPARQL integration, Deep Graph Library
March 13th: This Week in Neo4j - Hidden Markov Model, SQL Server to Neo4j, Fraud Detection with Graphs
March 20th: This Week in Neo4j - Google Cloud IAM hierarchy, Analyzing Genomes, Demystifying Graph Databases

March 27th: This Week in Neo4j – Versioner Core, NODES CfP, GRANDstack CMS, GraphStuff.FM podcast,
April 3rd: This Week in Neo4j – Build a Knowledge Graph, GRANDstack Podcast App, Archimate Model,
April 10th: This Week in Neo4j – Neo4j & Django, Analyzing Genomes, GGCD, Change Data Capture,
April 17th: This Week in Neo4j – Neo4j & Python, Model Git Commits, Slack to Discord, Open Names Data
April 24th: https://neo4j.com/blog/this-week-in-neo4j-hackathon-sql-server-to-neo4j-hexology-startup-recap-ggcd-2021/
May 1st: This Week in Neo4j – Neo4j GraphQL 1.0, GraphStuff.FM, RDBMS to Graph, Art History in VR

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