Taxonomies Make the Law. Will Folksonomies Change It? by Serena Manzoli.
From the post:
Take a look at your bundle of tags on Delicious. Would you ever believe you’re going to change the law with a handful of them?
You’re going to change the way you research the law. The way you apply it. The way you teach it and, in doing so, shape the minds of future lawyers.
Do you think I’m going too far? Maybe.
But don’t overlook the way taxonomies have changed the law and shaped lawyers’ minds so far. Taxonomies? Yeah, taxonomies.
We, the lawyers, have used extensively taxonomies through the years; Civil lawyers in particular have shown to be particularly prone to them. We’ve used taxonomies for three reasons: to help legal research, to help memorization and teaching, and to apply the law.
Serena omits one reason lawyers use taxonomies: Knowledge of a taxonomy, particularly a complex one, confers power.
Legal taxonomies also exclude the vast majority of the population from meaningful engagement in public debates, much less decision making.
To be fair, some areas of the law are very complex, securities and tax law come to mind. Even without the taxonomy barrier, mastery is a difficult thing.
Serena’s example of navigable waters reminded me of one of my law professors who in separate cases, lost both sides of the question of navigability of a particular water way.
I am hopeful that Serena is correct about the coming impact of folksonomies on the law.
But I am also mindful that legal “reform” rarely emerges from the gauntlet of privilege unscathed.
I first saw this at: Manzoli on Legal Taxonomies and Legal Folksonomies.