The Internet blog has restored us to the powerful person-to-person communication that has always been our primary source of important news (until very recently), a powerful centerpiece of every culture on earth. It is the modern-day version of the "community circle" except that, with the Internet, the circle can comprise millions, even hundreds of millions, of people.
The mystery isn't why people choose that circle over something like Patch, it's why AOL doesn't seem to realize it. But that may not be so surprising. Corporations look at the Internet and don't see it. What they see is a huge potential market to be lured in squares of demographics -- a market that ignores the idiosyncracies and realities of people's lives. For corporate executives, the Internet isn't a massive town square of shared reality; it's a huge crowd gathering under a building's news ticker. Corporations can't comprehend the fact that people would rather talk to each other about their lives than look up to read some reporter's story about them.
So they will keep doing these projects and, while a few may succeed, most will fail. The problem will always be that the corporate Internet won't understand the reasons for failure and success. They will refuse to grasp that projects like Facebook succeed because they empower users, allowing them to dictate (even to a minor extent) the content being exchanged, while those that spoon-feed information to users will fail because most users no longer trust corporations to tell them the truth.