I recently discovered that the TUCS Technical Report 683 from the University of Turku Department of Mathematics and Statistics has been used as a reference in a blog discussion between two established non-Finnish mathematicians.
The value of this appears complicated. The Web 2.0 easily appears like the fast food equivalent of the “traditional” means of communication and being social. (This case is not helped by the fact that I am starting to write this blog entry while having a pizza for lunch in a fast food restaurant.) You should never cite Wikipedia (unless your article is about Wikipedia) and, in my conceptions, blogs are not that many notches above Wikipedia. However, I have noted that researchers have found interest and even value in the letters that famous scientists have exchanged, discussing their ideas and theories outside published books and articles.
For example in philosophy, the whole ideology of Gelassenheit, which is credited to Martin Heidegger, who later on rejected the whole of the idea, is an appendix of a record of a memorial address Heidegger delivered on the occation of 175th birthday of a famous composer. This is hardly a peer reviewed article with a proper structure, research plan, or citations. But then again, is Gelassenheit worth anything in the science of philosophy?
Will the value of blog writings endure, so that in the future historians will refer to blog entries, like they do now to letter exchange? Paper letters appear more eternal than electronic text on monthly paid-for web servers. However, paper can burn, and for blog history there is the Wayback Machine, keeping an archive on the Internet. At least for now.
Pezze, Barbara Dalle, “Heidegger on Gelassenheit” in Minerva – An Internet Journal of Philosophy, retrieved 27.3.2013
http://terrytao.wordpress.com/2007/05/25/open-question-effective-skolem-mahler-lech-theorem/, retrieved 7.4.2013
http://rjlipton.wordpress.com/2009/12/26/mathematical-embarrassments/, retrieved 7.4.2013
Wayback Machine, retrieved 7.4.2013