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Twenty Twenty…
To navigate the strange territory of the past year, which included learning to collaborate with team members 5,000 miles away, keeping 10,000 students safe from COVID-19, and balancing time with our families, pets, and plants, we did what we do best: we iterated.
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Context-Driven Activity Apps
Before we went on break for the holidays in December, the office got together to brainstorm solutions to a question we’ve been thinking hard about over the past few months: what does a good health app look like? “Good,” of course, can mean countless different things. It could mean that it’s good at reminding you to exercise and eat well, good for logging personal health information, or good at predicting when a chronic condition may flare up.
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The Year in Review
At the end of the year, we like to take some time to recap what we accomplished over the past 12 months. From client work to internal projects to talks and new hires, there’s a lot to celebrate. Here’s the best of Fathom from 2019:
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Tackling Adult Literacy with the Barbara Bush Foundation
This summer, we teamed up with the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy (BBFFL) to investigate the current status of adult literacy in the United States.

It’s been well established that the U.S. is in the midst of a literacy crisis. One in five U.S. adults struggle to read basic sentences, fill out a form, or understand basic vocabulary, and limitations like these prevent people from navigating the world with dignity.
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The Latest from Fathom – Fall 2019
This fall, we’ve had the opportunity to wrap up some long-running projects that we’re excited to finally share with the public. We’ve already had several occasions to do so — over the last couple months we’ve been busy presenting work at conferences, in classes, and within the office. In case you missed it, here’s what we’ve been up to…
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Monthly Update — Summer 2019
We had a remarkably busy summer this year. With client projects to develop, workshops to teach, and a host of interns and new hires to welcome, there was never a dull moment. As we’re settling in for the fall, we’re taking some time to look back on everything we accomplished during the summer months.
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Processing Community Day
Just a few weeks ago was the first ever Processing Community Day. As volunteers and attendees, we were lucky enough to be able to watch inspiring community talks, see new and old faces, and present our own work. In this post, Danielle and Olivia reflect on their experience.
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Exploring On Being
We’re thrilled to announce the release of a new project in partnership with On Being, the Peabody Award-winning podcast and public radio show that “opens up the animating questions at the center of human life: What does it mean to be human, and how do we want to live?”
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First of Her Kind
Amidst all the attention given to the 2016 presidential campaign, it was easy to miss an important date in the history of women in American government. One hundred years ago, on November 7, 1916, Jeannette Rankin of Montana became the first woman to be elected to federal office when she won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
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Interactive reports
From trends in civic tech, to monitoring poverty in New York City, to understanding the future of business, we've been fielding more inquiries from organizations who want better ways to communicate the data in their research and reports.
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Poverty Tracker's latest update
We're excited to release the latest update to the Poverty Tracker. The project is a collaboration with the Robin Hood Foundation and Columbia’s Population Research Center that has continued to look at poverty and hardship in New York City over the past three years.
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The Preservation of Favoured Traces, now as a poster and book
Hot off the press—and just in time for the holidays—are two print projects that look at the six editions of Charles Darwin's, On the Origin of Species. Originally developed as an interactive piece, we decided to continue our tradition of producing and selling unique printed artifacts. And as always, all of the proceeds from this work will be donated to charities focused on education, science, music, art, food, and homelessness.
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Fathom Watch Faces: an Android Experiment
We're excited to announce the launch of the Fathom Watch Faces, a collection of interactive watch face designs for the Android Wear collection, which is part of Google's Android Experiments. The experiments are designed to bring developers together on a common platform to push the capabilities of Android tablets, phones, and watches. We focused on using the internal components of the watches, such as their accelerometers and pedometers, to create delightful user feedback at every glance, and to really explore the information people can gain from a wearable device attached to their wrist.
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No Ceilings: The Full Participation Project (project launch)
In conjunction with International Women's Day and the upcoming session of the United Nations' Commission on the Status of Women, we're thrilled about the launch of No Ceilings: The Full Participation Project. Despite gains over the last twenty years, we still haven't reached gender equality worldwide. The gap in the share of women in the workforce versus the share of men has barely changed in two decades. To make matters more grim, the United States is one of nine countries worldwide that doesn’t provide for paid maternal leave.
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Scaled in Miles has gone gold!
We are very excited about the release of our latest poster, Scaled in Miles. Based on one of the greatest jazz musicians of the twentieth century, Scaled in Miles looks at Miles Davis’ career through a timeline of his recording sessions and the musicians who collaborated with him.
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CGI: Behind the Scenes
No Ceilings: The Full Participation Project is committed to using data as comprehensive evidence to measure the status of gender equality around the world. Our latest video for the Clinton Global Initiative uses data to demonstrate the progress of women and girls since the UN World Conference on Women in 1995. While the video gives a high level summary of CGI-related topic areas, we found it important to share a more granular, interactive version of the findings that fed into the piece.
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Open India
Despite unprecedented economic growth over the last fifty years, India is still home to one-third of the world's poor. Our latest project with the World Bank Group explores the Country Partnership Strategy for India (CPS) — a multi-billion dollar investment aimed at ending extreme poverty and promoting shared prosperity in one of the world's most populous countries over the next five years.
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2013 Year in NikeFuel
Most of our team at Fathom began wearing Nike+ FuelBands last January. By the end of the year, we had accumulated enough data to start creating interesting code-based sketches of our activity. What emerged from each person's data was a visually unique and telling story of their daily and weekly activity trends. As we fine-tuned the code to encapsulate more users’ information, it became increasingly clear that the portraits represented individualized routines, behaviors, and lifestyles. The exploration evolved into a detailed poster that depicted exercise trends, work routines, and even implications of sleep patterns. Today, those original sketches have graduated into the 2013 Year in NikeFuel, a site built for Nike that allows the entire FuelBand community to see a unique portrait of their personal activity.
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Records for Life
In addition to taking on new projects, interns, workshops, and leadership in the last few months, we were excited to enter Records for Life, a design challenge sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The challenge focused on reimagining the child health record — a humble document that is responsible for a tremendous amount of information exchange during the first five years of a child's life.
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Treading Lightly
Popular Science publishes a special energy issue every two years. We designed a 2011 spread that looked at where U.S. energy comes from, where it goes, and how much is lost along the way. The biennial is upon us, so we were excited when Katie Peek got back in touch for this year's issue. She asked us to research the innovations in renewable energy production that were taking shape worldwide, and to propose a couple of stories.
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Transportation for Massachussetts Coalition
As debates around the state transportation bill heated up this month, we teamed up with the Transportation for Massachusetts Coalition (T4MA) to create a series of infographics that capture the complexity of the Bay State’s transportation network. Since most of the Fathom team commutes via public transportation (the rest bike to work), we felt strongly about contributing clear and readable graphics that could be used in the course of the T4MA advocacy campaign. We have a vested interest in seeing that network remain in good working order, accessible, and affordable.
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The future of public transportation in Massachusetts
As debates around the state transportation bill heated up this month, we teamed up with the Transportation for Massachusetts Coalition (T4MA) to create a series of infographics that capture the complexity of the Bay State's transportation network. Since most of the Fathom team commutes via public transportation (the rest bike to work), we felt strongly about contributing clear and readable graphics that could be used in the course of the T4MA advocacy campaign. We have a vested interest in seeing that network remain in good working order, accessible, and affordable.
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2012 Thomson Reuters Annual Report
Thomson Reuters released their 2012 Annual Report online last week. While VSA Partners designed and implemented the site, we worked on a set of five graphics that highlight a selection of Reuters’s core business units.
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Connected China
This is the first of several posts about the Connected China project, you can read more of the series using this link.
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Of kitchens, kittens, and Khrushchev
Our latest piece for GE (ge.com/visualization/annual) explores 120 years’ worth of their annual reports, spanning the years 1892-2011. The initial idea was to look at how words were used over time: plotting the emergence and disappearance of themes over more than a century of history.
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The band is gonna take a short break, but we'll be back in 15 minutes.
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