The phrase "American ingenuity," admittedly, has always been pretty boastful. As early as 1838 the Mechanic's Register, a “journal of the useful arts, trades, manufactures, science, etc." was ready to proclaim, “The whole world must, ere long, acknowledge the superiority of American ingenuity." There is, in fact, something notable about American know-how, a dynamism that scholars say can be traced to the nation’s founding freedoms, including the freedom to make a fortune.
American ingenuity in the Mechanic's Register sense was tied to the then-raging Industrial Revolution, but the concept still has value, even after all the profound transformations that have taken place, so many that it may be best to think of our time as one of "permanent revolution," to borrow the historian Horace Judson's description of modern science.
It's because change nowadays is constant and dizzying, in the arts and society as well as the sciences, that we created the American Ingenuity Awards—to recognize nine shining achievements from the past year or so that are having a revolutionary effect on how we perceive the world and how we live. They are, we think, worth boasting about.
—Michael Caruso, Editor in Chief
Technology -- Adam Steltzner
Performing Arts -- St. Vincent
Social Progress -- Mimi Lok and Dave Eggers
Visual Arts -- Doug Aitken
Youth -- Saumil Bandyopadhyay
Natural Sciences -- Michael Skinner
Education -- Caroline Hoxby
Historical Scholarship -- Caroline Winterer
Physical Sciences -- John Rogers