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.
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.
In the last decade, we’ve waded through lots of talk about data—and worse, Big Data—as a kind of frightening “other.” Bruce Schneier described data as “the exhaust of the information age,” which is perfectly apt—but this is usually read the wrong way, giving us an excuse to treat data as a kind of artificial nuisance. We’re led to see data as an abstract, inhuman thing stored in the cloud, or maybe just in the computer.
I personally have long been fascinated by textile arts, and as a studio we are always looking for ways to explore data-driven designs beyond the computer screen. The 1:1 comparison of pixels to stitches has been widely explored, but it wasn’t until recently that our studio had the means to explore it ourselves.
For a recent sketch here at Fathom, we tackled a typical visualization challenge: how should we connect a set of dots? Typically, you can do this with straight lines or arcs, and for more graceful lines you can use a Bézier curve. We built a tool to explore the possibility of customizing those curves in pursuit of both aesthetics and legibility. In the end, we liked the tool so much that we decided to turn it into a Bézier Playground to share.