Here's where we post periodic updates on what we've been up to at Fathom. Reflections on the interesting stories that emerge from our client work, side projects, after-hours rabbitholes, and other miscellaneous threads of inquiry.

Knitting Our Holiday Cards
Earlier this year Fathom acquired a Brother KH910 knitting machine. We’d been trying to learn more about it with the hope that we would eventually be able to hack it to quickly read complex, generative patterns, but we needed a project to jumpstart the process. When it came time to decide on a theme for our annual holiday card, we saw our opportunity. Although I had not actually used the machine yet at the time, I suggested we make a Fathom Holiday Sampler, knitting a unique, computer-generated, multi-colored square for each of the nine members of our office.
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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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Understanding a Changing City
As an office based in Boston, with some people who have been living in the area for decades, we’ve seen the city and surrounding area change significantly in the past several years. Technology and biotech companies have thrived in the area, attracting waves of people to work high-paying jobs. Luxury apartments and businesses are popping up in the Seaport, a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood whose growth exemplifies the trends happening around the city. In Cambridge, the large demand for housing has driven up rent and home prices dramatically, similar to housing trends in Dorchester, Roxbury, and Jamaica Plain. These changes have developed on top of a living city, with a history of valuable diversity and also significant inequality.
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Introducing Laniakea
When faced with more documents than you can possibly read, what do you do? For more than twenty years, search engines like Google, Bing, Duckduckgo, and others have helped us navigate the tangle of the internet by finding a needle in a haystack. The success of these tools is predicated on the idea that most of the documents out there bear no relevance to the user’s current interest.
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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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Using Processing’s map() function
This past summer, the team at Fathom hosted a class week in which we took an abbreviated look at Fathom’s information design methodology. Students in the class learned some of the core principles of information design and explored new ways of representing data using p5.js, a JavaScript library for creating graphic and interactive experiences based on the original Processing software. During that week, we asked our students to create their own weather apps. We provided some examples of prior work to give students a good starting point. Yet, we found that these examples often confused our students, who frequently noted difficulties understanding what certain parts of the code were doing.
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Rethinking Patient Data at the Mayo Transform Conference
Recently, several members of the Fathom team had the opportunity to attend Mayo Clinic’s Transform Conference in Rochester, MN. The conference brings together innovative minds in health care. It features talks from leaders who are implementing experimental technologies and new protocols, and frank discussions about the underlying causes of major problems with the current healthcare system.
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Healthcare Data + Design, the Next 20 Years
Since the invention of the transistor, we’ve been living in the Information Age. Which sounds a bit like we’re enjoying a sci-fi utopia but mostly means that we all have 20,000 unread messages in our Gmail inboxes.
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Useful Document Summary Stats
It only takes a couple of sentences to get a feel for the character of a document.
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