Seb questions the purity of group-forming from weblogs, since in the cases of successful groups, there were already interested, committed potential leaders.
Groups with a sense of identity do form visibly chiefly through blog interaction. Witness for instance the recent formation of such entities as the group-forming community, Austin bloggers, EdBloggers, the Emergent Knowledge Management Research group, protest blogs in Venezuela, and the copyright term action reform group. However, I’m not sure that these could qualify as pure examples of emergence, because in each case, there are individuals who have crystallized a vision, assumed a leadership role, and made it happen through purposeful design. But it could be argued that something had already emerged before those visions occured to them.
1) Catalysis. A catalyst doesn’t create the reagents itself. It simply lowers the energy required for the reaction, and makes the reaction happen faster and more often.
2) Humans, not ants. This isn’t a pure “emergent system” where the pattern is created by giving a simple rule to a simple bot.
Sure, all of the groups Seb mentioned bring together people who already had plans and skills. The question is, how likely would they have been to find each other; how quickly would they have been to organize without these tools.
If weblogs can catalyze group-forming among people who were well-intentioned but disconnected, that’s a big and welcome change.