…Because nobody does that anymore, right? …Right?

Nah, it’s still popular, and with good reason.
And no, I’m not saying that because of any kind of small server I may or may not be involved with. Yes, running a server with an influx of people with vastly varying ideas of how the game should be played is quite interesting, and yes, this generates enough creativity to perpetuate any existing interest in the game, but that’s not all there is to it.
So here’s yet another list of presumably duplicate reasons why Minecraft is somewhat special / interesting / totallydandy.

Development

(No, seriously)

It’s over 2 years old and still in active development. Not just bugfixes.
Active. Development. They even added their own bugtracker a while ago, which is a nice touch. If you ignore the bunch of duplicates and the lower end of the report quality, it isn’t even that depressing. Finally there’s a good way to find out when that one bug that’s been converting part of your world/builds into massive lag-machines since 1.6 will finally be fixed, hooray!

And besides everything everybody keeps whining about, they are making big steps towards an eventual API and modability. Local version editing (with the whole launcher overhaul) in 1.6 was a pretty neat step in that direction that even non-modders could profit from. On their way, they’re refactoring a lot, while nonchalantly adding long-time community request, optimizing the very basics of the game (like terrain generation) and keeping in touch with the community via Twitter, the reddits, or appearing in popular LPs.
Yeah. LPs.

Who watches Let’s Plays anyway?

A CRAPLOAD OF PEOPLE FOR GLOB’S SAKE, GET OVER YOURSELF

Sorry about that, I just always wanted to say that.

When it comes to Minecraft, there is only one part of the community I ever actively followed, and that’s Mindcrack. Why? Because in my opinion they combine a nice mixture of creative, funny, technically gifted or just generally entertaining people on their server.

From building and designing to redstone, mechanisms and contraptions, role-playing sillyness to plain old “I’ll do some stuff and while I’m at it I’ll tell you this childhood story that’ll make you pee your pants a little more than you’re comfortable with”, there’s something for almost everyone to watch.

And then there’s Vechs, one of the most popular map makers in the Minecraft community, creator of the CTM game type and “Super Hostile” map series, widely perceived as a purely evil creature of utmost sadism.
And then there’s Dinnerbone, primary developer of Minecraft as of now. Who’s also whitelisted on the Mindcrack server and jumps on every blue moon.

And then there’s the moment where the two get shipped because they just fool around a lot and it’s massively cute.

That’s when game creators, popular community members and the rest of the community meet on the same level.
If that’s not worth a lot, I don’t know what I should be looking for.