Introduction: The Island of Knowledge and the Shoreline of Wonder

Never before have we had so many tools to learn and to communicate. Yet the art of talking, listening, and ascertaining the truth seems more elusive than ever in this Internet and cable age, lost in a bitter stream of blather and misinformation.

—Maureen Dowd, “Toilet-Paper Barricades,”The New York Times (August 11, 2009)

It’s a fact of life that kids put their parents to the test with their boundless and unpredictable curiosity. I have three small children, ages 4, 8, and 10. Here are some of the questions that I got from them while writing these lines, followed by my thoughts and the actual answers I gave them.

Ten-year-old boy: “Daddy, how can I build a hobbit house in the Minecraft ...

Get The Truthful Art: Data, Charts, and Maps for Communication now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.