Last October at GraphConnect San Francisco, Karen Lopez – Senior Project Manager at InfoAdvisors – delivered a presentation on how to tell when your data will be best served by a graph database.
My role is to explain why I think there are signs that your data – and maybe not just your data, but your data stories – are telling you that you have graphs.
And not only are graphs everywhere; they’re eating the world, and your data knows that.
tweet a lot and do some other things on social media because part of my advocacy as a data chick is to make sure everyone loves their data.
I think one of the ways in which we love our data is by making sure we’re providing the right homes for it, and that we’re providing the right tools and techniques for it.
In case you just got off a plane with no Wi-Fi (in other words, you flew Air Canada because we don’t have Wi-Fi on Air Canada) you know what today is, right? It’s Back to the Future day One of the things that Emil already covered was the parallel between where we are with graph databases and processing now versus where we were when relational databases were becoming new.
Have any of you lived through the discovery or invention of relational databases? Just earlier today, I thought about how graphs are changing the world.
We learned about how graph databases are influencing world leaders .
I think they’re going to change the world in some way – not just because they’re graphs, but because I think data is going to change the world.
Monsanto told us about a new circle of life that involves genotypes –and how they are going to change the world – along with some really important problems surrounding feeding people and taking care of each other.
Then we heard about how being able to discover, derive and visually see the connections between data allows investigative journalists to more effectively share data , because they can do so in a format that is easier to consume than a bunch of strictly-formatted spreadsheets .
This makes it easier for non-technical people to understand the data.
We also heard about food traceability and how Lending Club put together a MacGyver-like package of microservices Finally, we heard about how even though we’re overwhelmed with documents, we can find the metadata and tags in those documents using graph technology , which increases their searchability while omitting search results that don’t apply.
Any one of these things could be directly changing the world, or they could be providing the tools for you and your organization to change the world.
So, why graphs? I have some kind of snarky and potentially contentious opinions that explain why thinking about graphs is important.
I think that no matter how many people are big fans of hierarchal taxonomies or applying structure to the world – based on my decades of experience playing with data – there really aren’t a lot of true hierarchies.
And by true hierarchies I mean a tree hierarchy, in which something has exactly one parent.
Those don’t really exist, and we spend a lot of time developing systems or designing databases where we want to pretend that our data is a hierarchy.
We think HR org charts and product catalogs are hierarchies, but by trying to enforce a hierarchical view of the world on our data, we actually make it harder on ourselves.
Here’s an example of a typical hierarchy.
Let’s say you have a friendly bank in Bedford Falls, and you own a savings and loan (S&L) and people report to you.
That’s all fine and dandy until you realize that the people who report to you have other relationships to you as well.
You can see a hierarchy on the left, and a greater hierarchy on the right that shows not only that people are reporting to each other, but they’re married to each other, or related to each other, or report to you directly or act as a supervisor.