The MarkLogic Media Community has its roots all the way back to the start of the company. Our very first customers were information providers who were looking to maximize the value of their content. This expanded to nearly every part of the information industries as MarkLogic helped organizations create, manage and deliver articles, books, standards, reports, data and more.
With big changes in how content is created and how people access it and pay for it, the context around the content became more and more important. With these changes, our media community expanded to include entertainment. Metadata projects for these customers helped to create smart content to deliver films and shows to fans, and enterprise data projects tackled the complexity of rights and availabilities to get content to markets. Along with the data, our media customers have also led the way with cloud adoption, taking advantage of flexibility while maintaining mission-critical uptime and security.
Through it all, the community of MarkLogic media customers has kept growing. At shows and dinners, we’ve all shared our stories about how we’ve tackled ongoing challenges in the industry by better leveraging data.
To keep these great conversations going, we’ve created the MarkLogic Media Community web page. This site will be a single place to learn what’s happening across the industry and a place for all of you to share your great stories. And, to kick things off, I wanted to highlight some stories that chart the evolution of how our customers manage and deliver great content to their fans and customers.
Those of you who go way back with MarkLogic may remember Brian Bishop’s talk about the development of this groundbreaking information product platform. Developed in under a year, this project was deemed both undoable by experts and mission-critical by management. Using MarkLogic® as the foundation of the site, Brian and the team delivered the new platform, SpringerLink.com, on time and allowed Springer to take control of its content at a critical time in the industry.
SpringerLink is still today one of the most flexible and powerful information delivery products. Not only does it aggregate over 12 million articles, it can also flexibly deliver them in products defined by queries. Want just 20th century nuclear research from Europe? No problem. Springer can package that content for you on the fly. Go to https://link.springer.com/, do a search and click “Include Preview Only Content.” Presto! See the dynamic entitlements in action!
Springer has gone on to do much more with its content, including groundbreaking API access for data mining and innovative views like periodic table search over its materials science content. But SpringerLink is the heart of the Springer digital content business.
SpringerLink came about after MarkLogic customers explored innovative delivery of scholarly research like the Rotunda project from the University of Virginia Press and just before the large-scale platforms like LexisNexis Advance and Dow Jones Factiva launched. Like SpringerLink, these are also still running … and are stories for another day!
NBC Saturday Night Live
– Heading over to entertainment and metadata, the Saturday Night Live project tackled a very different challenge: how to connect fans of an iconic show with the great content they know and love … but can’t find! SNL and NBC Universal Digital knew that people loved the show but were puzzled by the lack of engagement with the archive. It was available online in a number of ways, but only recent episodes got any real numbers.
With the big 40th anniversary show approaching (remember that? it was awesome!) the team had the chance to create their own app for the show and to rethink how they connected with fans. Led by Michael Martin, the team focused on the data—specifically the metadata surrounding each episode. And, critically, instead of just piling more and more tags onto each episode’s record, they created semantic data that described not just the cast and characters, but all the themes, nicknames and insider jokes. This data rejuvenated the archive, letting fans explore their favorite years of the shows (everyone has their own “SNL golden years”) and suggest content based on their interests. And with the whole system—including the database—running in the cloud, it was able to deliver content to fans through the peaks of demand at the launch and now, every weekend when new content becomes available.
This data powered the app and the accompanying online experience with massive success. The engagement was huge. According to Martin, they were able to “make a meal out of snacks” with people spending “hours, not minutes” engaging. The archive was finally getting the attention it deserves.
And it is great data. Take a look at what you can do with it. (Warning: Set aside some time since you might get sucked into the world of SNL!)
- Browse every season including the cast and sketches.
- Click a cast member (John Belushi maybe?) and you can not only see all the sketches he was in, but every character he played!
- From that screen, do a search. “Samurai” should do nicely. Instead of search results, you get topics—the characters, cast members, collections and of course, actual sketches.
- If it seems like you’re exploring connections in a semantic data set, that’s because you are!
If you haven’t sucked up enough time exploring this great data, you can get the full experience with the SNL app and also see custom recommendations that tee up a series of sketches and let you swipe by them. It’s what the NBC folks called a mix of Tinder and Pandora … and it really is addictive.
Since then, semantics has spread to every part of media from better delivering semantics at BSI to creating context for tax and accounting at Wolters Kluwer … but those are also stories for another day!
Sony Pictures Television – Building on integrating the data around the content, the team at Sony Pictures Television tackled the rights and availability data around its shows. This data controls what shows can be sold to partners in markets around the world. The explosion of digital media outlets has made understanding and being able to act on exactly what titles are available a mission-critical task … and one that is growing ever more complex. In his talk on the project, Robert Maxwell describes it as “taking slices from a pizza where the pizza is continually changing shape.”
In this great talk, Maxwell details the state of modern media “manufacturing” with the many factors that go into putting a show into a specific market. At Sony, he and his team had an opportunity to put this data (much of it in an aging mainframe) into a data hub when the business combined domestic and international systems. This not only enabled them to get all of the data to the modern financial systems in the new platform, it also opened up new ways of looking at the rights and availability. In particular, Rob pointed out what he called “the best screen in Hollywood”—the output of a multi-variable query on which shows are available for a potential partner. This used to take hours to run, but with the new system, it is available to end-users in real time, which greatly speeds up the deal-making process.
Rob also has the best quote to his team: “I don’t want to say we were innovators. Our bosses didn’t want us to be innovative; they wanted us to be efficient and do something that had a high degree of success.” Words to the wise for anyone in the middle of a digital transformation. He goes on to talk about how schema flexibility was the key to delivering this.
Sony Pictures leveraged the Operational Data Hub pattern, loading complex data from multiple sources, curating the data to create links and making that data available to downstream and analytic systems. While this system builds on the concepts of the data around the content, it has much in common with many MarkLogic customers like Eaton, Abbvie, Cisco and more that are leveraging the data hub pattern and MarkLogic’s new data hub service. But those are also more stories for another day!
I hope that you have enjoyed these MarkLogic Media customer success stories. These customers are doing the hard work of getting their data in order and seeing some great results.
The Next Story Is Up to You
What do you have to share with our new MarkLogic Media Community? What is your tale of getting it done and adapting to the many changes in the industry?
Just let me know, and we’ll make sure your great story gets out to this great community of media industry leaders.
And, once again, welcome to the new MarkLogic Media Community!
See you in the community,