When I was in college, I had a roommate who played the drums. I asked him for no particular reason one day who the best drummer in the world was. He said in all seriousness that it was probably some dude nobody ever heard of playing in his basement.
I guess drumming is like that. If you can't empirically measure the result, it's less clear that the cream will rise to the top.
I was very interested to see this article on Netflix:
"Last month news broke that a team of computer scientists had finally managed to improve Netflix’s recommendation algorithm by 10%, making them eligible to win the $1 million Netflix Prize, a competition that began back in 2006. The team, BellKor’s Pragmatic Chaos, is composed of two former leaders in the competition who banded together in attempt to finally break the the 10% barrier and managed to succeed with a score of 10.08%."
A million dollars sounds like a lot of money but it often isn't in an environment when a small difference can be all the difference in the world. In tech, #1 makes most of the money, #2 might make money, #3 thru #x probably do secondaries waiting to make any money at all.
We should see more of this. As difficult it is to get around the NIH, or not invented here bias, there is a world of untapped talent and intelligence out there. I'm not cheerleading. Imagine if Google, who can afford hundereds of such contests, had everyone working for it?