There are occasionally "survey papers" written. These are very close to a good solution. However, they suffer from a lack of view points, as well as a lack of frequency. These two issues are directly addressed in the following section.
There are two phases of my proposal for action. The first is the "catch up" phase, followed by the "maintenance phase".
"Phase 1: Catch Up"
The "catch up" phase is the longest and most difficult, but also the most helpful.
I propose that the general population of a field nominate and elect a committee of experts who are the most qualified, accomplished, and knowledgeable people in the given field. These people would be charged with two tasks. The first is splitting the field into an appropriate number of subfields. I can only speak of my field of Computer Vision. One could break this field down into "Structure from Motion", "Object Recognition", "SLAM", etc. There should be 3-5 experts in each of these sub-fields on the committee. Each sub-committee is then charged with producing a survey paper of the work in this area starting as far back as possible and going to the present year. This will certainly be a large document, with many, many references, however it is important not to get lost in the task of listing references. These connection between papers and following the evolution of each idea is the central idea of this whole project. The payment for this exercise is an overwhelming sense of advancing the state of the art of scientific research procedures, as well as a resume line item which indicates that you are a recognized expert.
"Phase 2: Maintenance"
This is the easy phase! This process must be performed yearly (or at some other regular interval). Again, a committee must be selected. However, all that must be done is a short review of what has happened in this sub-field in the last year. References should NOT, for the most part, come from more than 1 year ago. This keeps these reviews linear and sequential, making them extremely easy to follow.
After some initial conversations with some of the field experts, it is apparent that there is potential for some political issues to be raised with a project like this. You may get people complaining "Why is my paper not included in the survey!?". You may also expose parallels that the original authors did not realize, making them feel "foolish". It is my opinion that the progress of the field and rapid absorption of young researchers is much more important than protecting an individual from this type of silly whining.