What is this cicada 3301?

Yeah, I did look it up on Wikipedia; but the information available was rather vague. Has anyone tried to solve it? Could Cecil solve it in under an hour? Who/what do you think this is a recruitment tool for? Also, if anyone has tried to solve it, is it really as elaborate and difficult as it sounds - does the difficulty lay mainly in the broadness and scope of the references, or the complexity of the cryptography, or both?

Joel Eriksson is one of the few known people to have actually solved it since the first challenge appeared online. His opinion of who’s behind it is about ¾ down.