Before Web 2.0, research and writing were separate, spatially and conceptually. Research took place in the library and then writing happened elsewhere. Even if writing took place in at study tables or a computer room within the library, these spaces were still separate from research spaces, as were the activities: research came first, then the writing second. With Web 2.0, James P. Purdy argues, students are creating their own research spaces by bookmarking pages, subscribing to RSS feeds, and personalizing sites such as JSTOR, and these research spaces are not fixed geographically, but are available wherever the internet is accessible, nor are they limited to a particular project, but will continue to be available after a paper is finished and students graduate; therefore, these self-created research spaces challenge the authority of an academic monopoly on knowledge. People today are using the internet as the primary source of research and so it would be blind to continue to insist on library-based research (sources selected by professors and staff), rather than helping students to develop the critical skills they will undoubtedly need to evaluate sources of information in the digital age. Most importantly research and writing have become interconnected tasks, helping students to realize they are not just consumers of knowledge, but active producers, evaluating, summarizing, criticizing, expanding, and integrating what they read while they read it. The writing students produce then becomes a real part of the knowledge pool, instead of disappearing in the teacher’s wastebasket after grading or in a box in the students’ garage, so students can see a real and immediate, lasting significance to their work.
Purdy, James P. “The Changing Space of Research: Web 2.0 and the Integration of Research and Writing Environments.” Computers and Composition, forthcoming 27 (2010): 48-58. Web. 16 April 2010.