Call me old-fashioned, but one of things the drives me up the wall about publication on the web in general, and technical expositions in particular, is the lack of both time-stamps and citations. These two things have existed in the scientific media even before formal journal publication. For example, 17th century scientists like Newton and Hooke, wrote missives to each other and it was convention then, as it is today, to commence a letter with the date. That's how we know that Hooke was very close to coming up with the law of gravitation that is now attributed to Newton (also aided by the latter meticulously eliding all reference to Hooke after the first edition of The Principia). Could we know those things today if they had been using the Web? It's not clear. It depends. And that's the problem; lack of consistency and a lack web tools to enforce consistency.
These same issues of time-stamping and citation of related work are very important for doing good performance analysis and capacity planning.
Generally speaking, an isolated piece of text provides little information. That's the problem with Google. It retrieves text based on string matches and page ranking (previous hits), without any context, so you have to weed your way through a lot of irrelevant junk. One also has to be careful because the first few Google items of text could be years apart in time, and that will likely alter your perspective on the significance of those items. Of course, that's assuming the text even has a time-stamp. You need context, and time-stamps and citations are both an integral part of context.
- Time Stamps
Email has always applied automatic time-stamping by default. Newsgoups provided both time-stamping and their own internal form of citation (before hyperlinks). Even the social noise generator Twitter applies automatic time-stamping. Google's Blogger (used here) has time-stamping, but it is ordered by the create time, not the time of publication, which can be confusing if a blog item sits in draft mode for a week or more (it happens). Other, lesser blog tools IMHO, may have some permutation of wall-clock time, day, month but not year, for example. HTML has no tag field to encourage either manual or automatic editor-based time-stamping.
At least Wikipedia offers a manual way for readers to flag articles that do not include any references.
Even when references are included, hyper-references have a nasty habit of vaporizing over time. A more pressing and still unsolved problem is the fact that hyperlinks are voided if a web article is printed as hard copy. Books and hardcopy are not going away as fast as some people would like to think.