Where are the data visualization success stories?

I see a lot of visualization around me now and I am extremely excited about it. Yet, are we making any real difference? I mean, are we having any real impact in people’s life other than telling them beautiful stories?

Yes I know, impact could be defined in a million different ways and it may be hard to capture. But why? Why I never stumble into an article or blog post showing, I don’t know, for instance, how visualization helped a group of doctors doing something remarkable with visualization?

Is it just because this stuff does not get reported or what?

Here are a few possible explanations:

  • Explanation#1: Impactful visualization is hidden. Those people who are using visualization successfully, who have a real impact, are too busy to report their success.
  • Explanation #2: Visualization is just a fragment of a much larger process. Visualization, when is not used as a communication/story telling tool is part of a much larger process, which includes many other steps and tools so simply success is not ascribed to visualization.
  • Explanation #3: Visualization impact has yet to come. Maybe we just have to wait a bit longer and we’ll get all the success we want.

What do you think? Do you have other explanations? Is my question just too pretentious? Or did I just miss a ton of success stories and this post is totally nonsense?

P.S.1 On a side note: other areas of data analysis, especially automatic approaches like machine learning and data mining have plenty of stories to tell. Why? Food for thought …

P.S. 2 After writing this post I discovered my friend Andy Kirk has written a much longer post on this issue.