Project 3- Data Visualization

Yueru Deng
8 min readNov 14, 2020


11/12 Introduction to the Data Set

Data is introduced?

The data set introduced explains the meaning, form, type, key points, and effects of meditation. It summarizes meditation as a chill, but no “no thoughts”, open, and microscope activity. Then it illustrates different types of meditation with their sources and key concentrations. The information set also presents common hindrances of meditation, the quality of mind it can develop(in eastern elemental terms), and the effects of meditation by their categories along with the strength of related scientific evidence.

How would you characterize the steps in the story?

This set of information is presented by sequentially introducing aspects of meditation according to its hierarchy, explaining what it is, how it works, what it is for, and why it is important. In each aspect, it systematically enumerates all the elements and types, with descriptive texts, illustrations, or diagrams. This method is proper for objects that do not involve large numbers or extremely complex categories. In the last section, when discussing the effects of meditation, it uses a geometric diagram to show what is in each category and uses typography to stand for scientific strength.

The sequence of information provided (Source:

What relationships emerge from the visualization?

The visualization applies a sort of overlapping color code system. In the second section, the visual and text description of each meditation type contains several layers of information, the posture, the object of concentration, the recommended practice time, the origin, and the detailed instruction. The information from the first and the third section may be considered as the general principles of all these types. In the last two sections, it uses different colors to represent the qualities of mind developed through meditation and relates them to the elements in the traditional eastern terms. Then the subcategories of mental qualities are classified in the same color system, showing their overlapping relationship. However, space, which stands for tranquil, does not have a corresponding category in the last section. Besides, some recurring colors, like yellow, orange, and green are used in different sections assigned with different categorizing functions. It could be confusing.


What do you believe the maker wants you to see?

From my perspective, the maker intends to emphasize the effects and benefits of meditation, along with the type of meditation practiced, backed up by scientific evidence of varying strength levels. The maker seems to be promoting meditation by providing detailed descriptions and instruction to the meditation activity. If anyone viewing this information set has a related aspect of their mind or body that they want to develop or explore, they might be guided to further explore the world of meditation.

Why is their stance important?

Their stance is important because they could play a vital role in publicizing the effectiveness and scientificity of meditation. Seeing that the practice of meditation could be beneficial to so many aspects of one’s emotion, mind, and body, meditation becomes fascinating. Mentioning the strength of science makes it convincing, especially when in the data spreadsheet, these benefits come with related studies.

What other relationships might be inherent in the data and of value to highlight?

It may be helpful for those who want to practice meditation to see different levels of difficulty of meditation types and their friendliness to beginners. If in the last part, the audience can also understand the relevant quantitative research supporting its scientific nature, it will make the benefits of meditation more convincing. Besides, the use of color throughout the storyline may be worth rethinking to prevent confusion over the repetition of colors that represent different meanings.

11/17 Organization and Sequence

The Wurman reading introduces the five basic ways of organizing information, “LATCH”, location, alphabet, time, category, and hierarchy. Each method has its specific use of space and scope in representing information and each has its limitation. When data is arranged differently, we can see different priorities of information.

Sketch by Stacie in the class, 11/12

What facets of your data are you considering using in your project and why?

In the meditation data set, I am most interested in the last section describing the effects of meditation/mindfulness.

The Effects of Meditation/Mindfulness. Source:

In this image, the maker uses triangles to represent each category and uses colors to show their difference and overlaps. The triangle shape is quite confusing because it seems to imply a kind of directionality and hierarchy. Besides, the strength of evidence is represented by the typographic difference which seems irregular in its way of organization. In the Google Spreadsheet data set, the scientific strength is represented by numbers of 0 to 4, which refer to strength levels from none to strong(4 strong, 3 promising, 2 inconclusive, 1 slight, 0 none). However, this part of the data is ordinal rather than accurately quantified. Is there a way to better illustrate the relationship between meditation and science? I think I will focus on the redesign of this part to clarify how scientific disciplinary findings are related to meditation.

I think C(Category) and H(Hierarchy) will work together as the main organization methods for visualizing the data. An indexical logical sequence will be applied for the viewers to move through the content. I’m not sure if I will be able to put all the layers of information into one coordinate system and I’m still exploring and trying to find good references for it.

11/19 Organization and Sequence

Yau’s Data Point reading further refines the choices we can make in terms of data visual expression. Encoding data into visual cues is not only a transformation from text to graphics but also a decision to choose the goal of expression. Coordinate system and scale help us determine the intensity of this expression.

While searching for inspiration and outer resources on meditation-related data, I found there are actually several papers researching on “researches that have been done on meditation”, which may add new insight to the scientific proof of the effects. In some of the paper, researches are divided into quite different categories.

Since the benefit of meditation can be reflected in different body parts, I’m considering using a map of the human body as the territory, where a geographic coordinate system could be applied. When moving around the body parts, the viewers can see the related benefits that meditation will produce, and then they may be able to see how to approach that benefit.

11/24 Layering Information

The information set on meditation that I’m exploring has the following layers: meditation-related benefits, the related researches and disciplines, the strength of evidence, body parts involved, and the types of meditation to achieve those benefits. So the entry point will be where people want to improve physically or psychologically looking into what they can acquire from meditation. They can look at a body map with the notations and then dig into more information.

Geographic Map Visual Exploration

In addition, I hope to reflect the development of data from the interaction inside visualization.

A flow map sorting the sources, types, and concentration of meditation.

From the mid review, I was informed that the color choice of the visual cues are vital in determining what information is recognized first. For the next step, I will figure out how to mute the less important info and highlight the main ones while bringing the interactions.

Visual Example for Interactions. Source:

12/10 Prototyping Information Map

In the final prototype, I decided to include the following information in the main visualization: meditation effects, the categories of these effects(physical, mental, transpersonal benefit), the significance of these effects, and their strength of research evidence.

The studied effects will be all listed out.

The geographical layout: physical, mental, transpersonal.

The range of significance: significant, moderate, minor, negligible.

The strength of evidence: strong, promising, inconclusive, slight, hardly any.

“What are the examined benefits of meditation and how reliable are they?”

For this topic and the question that I am asking, the included existing research results need to be summarized.

12/18 Update: The overall data storytelling is intended to be a meta-analysis of existing studies. Due to the limited time I was able to input until now, there are missing parts that I hope to add on later to complete the story.

Screenshot of my prototype

What I have been able to make:

An interactive data visualization that illustrates benefits attached to the related body/mind/transpersonal space.

Information with different levels of details.

Visual cues potentially enabling comparison, conclusion, and induction( which still need adjustment for better visual hierarchy).

What is the next step:

The method, number, and duration of relevant experiments were extracted from the original data.

For now, it seems it is hard for the audiences to understand how these dots appeared where they are now in the geographic coordinate system. I think I will need to visualize how I reached this point of data sorting. For example: from the given data set, the “strength of evidence” is a general conclusion from the mentioned studies. I have looked into the original papers to see what kind of research/experiments they are. I captured information on how meditations were practiced, how many people are involved and are there control groups and controlled varieties… I should visualize how I sorted the “effectiveness” and “strength” into the ranges using these data.

The ultimate goal of this project is to provide a guide, a meta-analysis for people who want to study the effects of meditation so that they can index the existing research results and recognize which areas lack sufficient and reliable research, which is worthy of further exploration. However, I realize this is what I really want to do a little bit late and it requires more than expected time to go through existing studies. I will continue the work and use seminar paper writing to assist its future development.



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