Steve, like you I find the visualizations of data very helpful and that they are very excellent tools for data quality validation and checking as well. Those charts and maps with odd spikes or locations mapped way out in the water are very obvious if you take the time to visualize, chart, or map your data.
Using visual presentations of data if they can be prepared quickly can be a nice tool in determining trends in the data. This is not news and I know that millions have stated this already but it still remains true. If we will take the time to do the preliminary analysis even after the data is captured or uploaded, we can identify some oddities or trends we might want to investigate. In doing so we might find things like constant monitoring devices calibrated by a new employee were not set right before they went into the field and the data is a couple of decimal points to the right or the left. And the neat thing is that if we use the visualizations in a dashboard we will see quickly any variations in the data we monitor.
I have built OLAP cubes over datasets just to see what is going on, and have been rewarded with information and interesting facts concerning the data collections by doing so.
Loved the post!
Not all gray hairs are Dinosaurs!