I hate to rain on the parade, but there are two reasonably good books about extra-structural intellectual groupings, The Starfish and the Spider by Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom and The Square and the Tower by Niall Ferguson. And if Naill Ferguson is writing about it, it's old, dead, cut and dried.
Both books argue that historians tend to view the world through hierarchies because hierarchies are recorded. Hierarchies leave evidence. Hierarchies are official, have bylaws, and are operated out in the open. Networks, on the other hand, are loose, fluid, and sub-rosa. Ferguson goes as far as arguing that the Bavarian Illuminati launched two centuries of conspiracy theories simply by writing shit down and making the normies nervous when in fact, they weren't doing anything that wasn't already being done at cafes and salons all over Europe.
Starfish and the Spider points to the progress made by loose, disinterested groups of people who are linked primarily by their affinity for something, with no hierarchy or chain of command to accomplish a task. The classical example used is the Mescalero Apache, who dominated the plains until the US Government set them up as landowners, at which point their allegiance switched from the Apache way of life to the American way of life and the whole organization collapsed. Square and the Tower makes the argument that all us armchair politicos get more than our fill of Henry Kissinger not because he's a powerful politician, but because he knows absolutely everyone which means if there's a geopolitical deal anywhere in the making, everyone involved is one degree removed from Henry Kissinger.
We're not taught this stuff because it's pure elitism - after all, you got in on your merits, right? I only found out from this article:
...that a producer I've been friendly with for a decade doesn't have "old Hollywood" money because his grandfather invented the mobile as he likes to say, but because his dad invented the Back Street Boys. But let's get real: my buddy went to good schools with the kids of other people who wanted to send their kids to good schools and while we can be mad that Felicity Huffman paid for her kid to get in on a tennis scholarship or whatever, the fact of the matter is the world has been run by Old Boy's Clubs since it was Thag and Ag and always will be. Both books argue that these networks are not aberrations but are the archetypal human response to organization - you need a hierarchy for officialdom and you need a network to accomplish things in spite of the hierarchy (the "tower" and the "square" of Ferguson's book).
So of course a bunch of intellectually curious naifs are going to start chatting with each other online. I'd go as far as pointing out that the ones who are good at "online" are the ones who were able to buttress their in-person communities to the mutual benefit of both while the ones that eschewed online communities are either really good in person or really, really alone. I know both types. One is definitely happier than the other.
Sure. Networks are great. Just know that the more you celebrate them, the more you paint them up, the more you talk about how awesome they are, the more someone is going to accuse you of being a lizard person and the less you can focus on the joy of inquiry.