Let’s go back in time a couple years to July 4, 2012: the day when Cern scientists announced that they had discovered one of the most elusive particles in physics, the Higgs boson. The Large Hadron Collider, the site of this discovery, had gained some notoriety from being mentioned in The Big Bang Theory, and even regular people with little or no interest in the crazy complicated world of particle physics found themselves curious about what all of this means. After the popularity of their first live blog of the LHC, The Guardian decided to launch a second live blog covering this new development. The live blog was written my Lizzie Davies but Ian Sample provided the photos, videos and live tweets. Below is a live blog critique of this live blog.
Monday Feb 16 2015 (note: still trying to figure out how to take screenshots with windows so I don’t have any photos yet)
The live blog kick-off is friendly and informative enough, but it could have benefited from better scene-setting. Maybe a photo of the auditorium where the announcement will be made. The videos, though no longer available, probably offered a little more context. The first video, a live stream from Cern, was a good way to set the scene, though I think a picture would have been helpful/more effective. The second video was especially helpful because it explained the Higgs boson in a unique and colorful way– but wasn’t necessarily part of the live feed.
The play-by-play coverage of the event is getting started here. Davies includes just the right amount of information when covering the unfolding events, it doesn’t feel like I’m missing out on much from not being there. I’m not sure how much is added by her commentary on Sample’s tweets but it provides a nice flow and makes the piece more conversational.
In some places, Davies seems to have a thin understanding of what is going on. Her updates are brief and she relies on commentary from outside experts like Brian Cox. I think it’s good that she’s honest about her knowledge level and it probably makes the article more relatable for people who don’t know much about particle physics but for people with a more advanced understanding of the topic it’s a little frustrating.
The outside quotes provide good context and important information but there are so many that it breaks up the flow of the liveblog.
Social media is used really well in this article. The brief post about the trending hashtags does a god job of showing the relevance of the topic and the reaction on social media. I also like that Davies compiles the most relevant tweets on the topic into the live blog so that the reader doesn’t have to search around the internet for more information from other sources. I also like how consistently thorough Davies and Samples are. Even when Davies doesn’t seem to have a complete understanding of what is being said she still seems to be able to pick out the most important parts and include them in the blog. I don’t feel like I’m missing much from reading this vs. watching Cern’s live stream.
Davies just made a quick post where commenters were asked to explain the Higgs boson. Not only does this tactic help give readers a better understanding of the Higgs boson, what it does and why it’s important, but it also fosters a sense of involvement and community.
Lots of resources and commentary! Good use of quotes and livetweets. The live blog wraps up with some insightful comments about what this discovery means and finally with a short quote from Sample. I think the kicker could have been stronger and I wish that Davies had been able to put in her own words why this announcement was so important.
The upshot: I think this live blog could have benefited from a better collection of photos and videos (which is ironic because right now my live blog of this live blog has no photos). Other than that it did a great job of taking a complex scientific concept and making it accessible and interesting to people with only a basic knowledge of the topic. The live blog was very thorough, consistent and it was clear where all the information was coming from because all of it was attributed. The event, the announcement of the discovery of the Higgs boson, lends itself very well to live blogging because it is (or was) breaking news. I think the tweets are engaging and Ian Sample did a great job covering the event in the field but the live blog was really lacking in photos and video which made it harder to connect.