Mark Needham talks about a great example graph and how the meetup drew the graphs in an innovative way at the latest Neo4j’s Graph Café

On Wednesday evening I attended an interesting spin on the monthly Neo4j meetup, where instead of the usual ‘talk then go to the pub afterwards’ format my colleagues Rik and Arturas organised Graph Café in the Doggetts Coat and Badge pub in Blackfriars.

The format was changed as well – the evening consisted of ~10 lightening talks which were spread out over about 3 hours, an approach Rik has used at similar events in Belgium and Holland earlier in the year.

In the gaps in between the talks people mingled with each other and shared tips/talked through the problems they were trying to solve using graphs.

There was a strong turn out and it was much more interactive than a normal meet-up where the main interaction comes from people asking the speaker questions. While there is a pub afterwards there’s always a noticeable drop out from the talk so it was good to have everyone together chatting this time.

Frank Gibson described what I thought was the coolest use of graphs of the evening. He’s modelling different drugs, which medical conditions they treat and which other drugs they aren’t compatible with. The next step is to bring that together with patients’ medical records to help doctors make treatment recommendations.

As well as the talks, table clothes were laid out on the tables where people could sketch out the problems they were working on and get input from others. Tobias went a bit meta and drew a graph about graph databases:

While it’s often said that graphs are whiteboard friendly I was still surprised at how effective this was. When someone was explaining what they were working on I found myself sketching out what I’d interpreted and then they’d join in and point out bits I’d misunderstood and bits they were thinking about changing.

Along those lines, my colleague Alistair also demoed Arrows – a Javascript library for drawing graphs which I use for most of the graph related diagrams on here.

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