My brother-in-low, Jesper Berggreen, created a family bulletin board where each household could share a calendar, a gallery and a journal. One account for each house, safe and secure -- and thus a place where all family members truly does speak their minds and drops in with both small and large issues.
Its been live for 3+ years and it ties together a family that is spread across the globe. Birthdays are remembered, achievements complimented and ailments consoled. It covers all and it is the first place to go when time allows for private surfing.
Several professional blogging tools -- like TypePad -- does protect a blog from being public while allowing multiple authors. As a tool for being ever-present, it just may be what is needed for large families and teams to stay abreast while providing a secure place to visit, vent and visualize... You don't have to write, just toss in your pictures and share your thousand words that way!
It works for us -- across countries and continents. Let me know if anyone would like to know more, hear of the personal experiences and share the best practices.