Only it didn't work, at least not how the MAFIAA wanted it to.
For them, "working" would be letting them voice their misguided, unsupported views without having to worry about interference or the other side questioning them and resenting actual facts. In that sense, IRC definitely didn't - and couldn't - work.
"...they know where to find the information they need and how to implement what they find."
"There is a need for a standardized something to put on ones resume in order to get an interview..."
The question here is whether these two goals are satisfied by universities, or only the second one. IE, whether they are more concerned with education or credentials.
For the most part, autodidacts can handle the first on their own, but once online learning can supply reliable credentials, the second will be in reach of a lot of people at a very low cost. We might even see big universities react the same way that Hollywood studios are reacting to this loss of control.
Of course the entertainment industry won't stop claiming that Google profits off of copyright infringement, but that doesn't mean that they won't use this evidence to say, "See? Even Google dropped Megaupload because they are such a den of piracy! Clearly this proves their guilt!"
Sure, this open source business model may work for a developer with half a million dollars to burn and a passion for free software, but it would never work for a patent troll who can't innovate his way out of a wet paper bag (patent pending)!
What you're referring to as Linux, is in fact, GNU/Linux, or as I've recently taken to calling it, GNU plus Linux. Linux is not an operating system unto itself, but rather another free component of a fully functioning GNU system made useful by the GNU corelibs, shell utilities and vital system components comprising a full OS as defined by POSIX.
Many computer users run a modified version of the GNU system every day, without realizing it. Through a peculiar turn of events, the version of GNU which is widely used today is often called "Linux", and many of its users are not aware that it is basically the GNU system, developed by the GNU Project.
There really is a Linux, and these people are using it, but it is just a part of the system they use. Linux is the kernel: the program in the system that allocates the machine's resources to the other programs that you run. The kernel is an essential part of an operating system, but useless by itself; it can only function in the context of a complete operating system. Linux is normally used in combination with the GNU operating system: the whole system is basically GNU with Linux added, or GNU/Linux. All the so-called "Linux" distributions are really distributions of GNU/Linux.
Why has no one compared this to the idea of a sit-in? In the same way that a sit-in overloads normal operating procedures to inhibit business as a form of protest, this block emails from coming in (albeit unintentionally). The way I see it, this is just another form of protest.
Also, I remember a post that was probably on techdirt, but maybe not, that compared DDoS attacks to digital sit-ins.