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Spreading Ideas That Transcend Language

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Every aspect of life can be translated into a symbol or a signal, invoking our curiosity, serving as a catalyst for understanding and providing information that guides our actions, our feelings and our choices.

Before alphabets were developed by the earliest civilizations, humans communicated with symbols and signals that have evolved with us over time from to become the universal language we share across the entire human species.

Etchings on cave walls told the stories of early humans, whose gestures and sounds used to signal meaning to each other formed the blueprints of language. Today, we still use symbols in our day-to-day communication. Emojis, whose meanings are instantly understood among different cultures, have become standard visual languages for online and mobile communication. Looping GIFs exchanged between two people in a text message conversation can signal a whole range of emotions without displaying a single word--each one understood by a knowing facial expression or its specific context in a pop culture reference.

We use we use these images, gestures and actions as a way of transcending language barriers to communicate ideas that are worth sharing with others.

In a world where an excess of ideas are broadcasted across multiple platforms every second, it's easy to get the signals crossed and misinterpret symbols entirely. We've identified five stages of communicating an idea worth spreading: 1) stop what you're doing; 2) listen to the idea being communicated; 3) think about how that impacts you and the world around you; 4) share it among your local and global networks; and 5) act upon that idea in real terms.

There is a forum for these ideas--spanning across topics as diverse as science, gaming, sexuality, language, entertainment, design and the future of work-- taking place in the heart of Toronto.

Imagine an LGBTQ refugee who escaped war-ravaged Syria for Canada only to march with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the 2016 Toronto Pride Parade. A journalist who explores cutting-edge science and examines cultural trends to bring society closer to realizing the true nature of women's sexuality. A professor of semiotics and linguistics whose research on meanings of popular culture and visual languages--think emojis--is changing how we understand social evolution. A Jane Jacobs Award-winning social innovator who's Community Food Centre model is redefining food access for local communities. Or a community activist and gamer whose work in priority communities is challenging representations of minorities in video games. All in one room.

The transformational ideas being communicated by these local pioneers and global change-makers will rely on a connected network of individuals who can interpret these symbols and signals, and spread them across networks in order to enact grassroots change.

You can join us as we explore Toronto's big ideas through the lens of our collective symbols and signals as we encourage one another to stop, listen, think, share and act.

Learn how you can be a delegate at the eighth annual TEDxToronto conference-"Symbols + Signals"--on October 27, 2016, at Koerner Hall, Telus Centre for Performance and Learning.

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