George Siemens has an interesting piece on Knowing before doing, and within that there is this comment about how decentralized communities could work with specific reference to the edubloggers community:
Most individuals, however, have started to create a scattered identity and presence. I have pieces of my thoughts scattered across numerous articles, website, podcasts, and presentations. I don’t really want to join a CoP. I want the connection values of communities to be available to me in my own online space and presence. I imagine there will be disagreement here, but I think edubloggers have formed a community of practice. We dialogue (sometimes directly, but mostly with an awareness of others). We share resources, presentations. We offer opinions, reactions, and (for new bloggers) informal mentorship. The nice aspect of this community is the end-user control. I don’t have to go to anyone who owns my identity and my content. We still achieve centralized aims (dialogue about learning and technology), but we do so through decentralized means.
This is another interesting aspect of the blogs-as-communities discussion that has been happening in several places beyond just me.
At my blog, I can write on whatever topics intrigue me in the moment. Assuming there are actually people out there who read and respond, I can discover other communities and interact with them peripherally on my blog.
Not only is writing an act of participation. Online community members need to follow what is happening in the community. If all we had were separate websites blogs for the active members, it would be impossible to keep up. But we don't: we have aggregators that bring all my community sources into one location and enable me to follow those discussions on my own terms. I suspect this is why some online fora have faded in relevance: it's easier when the discussions come to me, than when I have to "go get them."