Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

In the red corner, a group of self-regarding know-it-alls who believe the sun shines out of their every orifice because their abilities are manifest and manifold. 

In the blue corner, a group of self-regarding know-it-alls who believe the sun shines out of their every orifice and they have the numbers to prove it. In real time.

That's the impression one gets from a new Wall Street Journal article depicting the battle for supremacy at Netflix.

It's between movie types who think they know a hit when they see one and data types who think they know a hit when they see one obeying their algorithmic predictions.

Entertainingly, the movie types are based in Hollywood, California while the data types slum it in Los Gatos, California a place that is to excitement what the paper towel is to culinary excellence.

The Journal describes how the nerds believe they know precisely which images from movies can generate clicks.

They claim that advertising is truly unnecessary. Instead, they think their algorithm can find the right viewers for a particular show.

Meanwhile, the Hollywood types prefer to lean on their alleged creativity and star-power. Oh, and marketing budgets.

I confess that when Netflix's supposedly legendary algorithm recommends a show to me, it's almost always a complete nonsense.

Indeed, it's so painfully awful that I spend far too much time trawling the app to find something I might actually like.

It's as if the machine truly has no clue about any Netflix show I've ever watched.

Occasionally, it seems to be so confused -- or perhaps exasperated -- that it'll even recommend shows I've already seen.

I contacted Netflix to ask whether it was enjoying the tension between the numbers and the artists. I'll update, should human or algorithm reply.

This apparent standoff between nerds and talent is one that's surely being repeated across so many businesses.

The nerds appear to behave as if the algorithm is everything. They insist that the numbers tell the whole story. They seem to ignore that the algorithm was built by humans and is infused with a multitude of flaws.

On the other side are people who believe they know the business and have an instinct for its quirks and vicissitudes, none of which can be described by computer-generated numbers.

I recently read a fascinating book called Astroball: The New Way To Win It All. In it, Ben Reiter describes how the Houston Astros committed themselves emotionally to data nerds running their show.

I couldn't help getting the impression, however, that at least some of their major decisions were made by not being a Slave to the Rithm.

The signing of star pitcher Justin Verlander, for example.

It seems that now some of the Hollywood types at Netflix are following that thought process, finding ways to outmaneuver the sure-thinging crazies that are nerds.

The ultimate problem for Netflix is that there's now so much stuff in the world that it's hard to find anything one might like.

Even when one finds it, how stimulating can it be when so much now seems to be created accordingly to a certain formula? 

I do, though, suffer from a helpful countenance. I have one idea that I believe would be a huge hit for the company.

A reality show that follows the artists and the nerds as they prepare to battle each other for supremacy at Netflix.

Now that's something I'd really want to watch.

Published on: Nov 10, 2018
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.