FuzzyLaw [FuzzyDBA, FuzzyRDF, FuzzySW?]


From the webpage:


FuzzyLaw has gathered explanations of legal terms from members of the public in order to get a sense of what the ‘person on the street’ has in mind when they think of a legal term. By making lay-people’s explanations of legal terms available to interpreters, police and other legal professionals, we hope to stimulate debate and learning about word meaning, public understanding of law and the nature of explanation.

The explanations gathered in FuzzyLaw are unusual in that they are provided by members of the public. These people, all aged over 18, regard themselves as ‘native speakers’, ‘first language speakers’ and ‘mother tongue’ speakers of English and have lived in England and/or Wales for 10 years or more. We might therefore expect that they will understand English legal terminology as well as any member of the public might. No one who has contributed has ever worked in the criminal law system or as an interpreter or translator. They therefore bring no special expertise to the task of explanation, beyond whatever their daily life has provided.

We have gathered explanations for 37 words in total. You can see a sample of these explanations on FuzzyLaw. The sample of explanations is regularly updated. You can also read responses to the terms and the explanations from mainly interpreters, police officers and academics. You are warmly invited to add your own responses and join in the discussion of each and every word. Check back regularly to see how discussions develop and consider bookmarking the site for future visits. The site also contains commentaries on interesting phenomena which have emerged through the site. You can respond to the commentaries too on that page, contributing to the developing research project.


Have you ever wondered that the ‘person on the street’ thinks about relational databases, RDF or the Semantic Web?

Those are the folks who are being pushed content based on interpretations not their own making.

Here’s a work experiment for you:

  1. Take ten search terms from your local query log.
  2. At each department staff meeting, distribute sheets with the words, requesting everyone to define the terms in their own words. No wrong answers.
  3. Tally up the definitions per department and across the company.
  4. Comments anyone?

I first saw this at: FuzzyLaw: Collection of lay citizens’ understandings of legal terminology.

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