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Workshop (Nov) on developing classification schemes for legal ordinances

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      Andreas Wagner

      We are a group of persons and projects interested in developing interoperable data models for historical decrees, ordinances and other legal regulations. In November, we will hold a virtual workshop to discuss the development of a classification scheme for the subject matters regulated in such norms.

      More concretely, we will meet on

      1. Friday, 5 November, 10:00-12:00 (CET)
      2. Monday, 8 November 14:00-16:00 (CET)


      Based on the taxonomy of regulatory matters established by the project \”Repertory of Policeyordnungen\” in the 1990s [1-3], and guided by current experiences from various other projects, we will discuss how to design, maintain and also extend such a scheme so that the data created in different contexts can be compared meaningfully. We will have Karl Härter from the Repertory project presenting how they have identified concepts, defined distinct and consistent labels and levels of abstraction, and how they tackled the considerable divergences between the different territories studied at the time. Other confirmed participants include Pascale Sutter from the Law Sources Foundation of the Swiss Lawyers Society, Annemieke Romein of the Huygens Institute for the History of the Netherlands, and Heikki Pihlajamäki from the University of Helsinki.

      Some questions that we can address during the workshop are:

      • How to distinguish between systematic classification terms and free keywords or \”tags\”?
      • How to identify and manage different levels of abstraction throughout a catalogue or a \”tree\” of concepts and sub-concepts?
      • Are all nodes in such a tree \”concepts\” or are \”collections of concepts\” inevitable (e.g. \”Censorship and Printing\”, which is not a concept but a combination of concepts)? Can we always find a notion for what is common between such to-be-combined concepts?
      • Should we avoid nodes in different branches having the same label (e.g. \”Lotteries\” in Gambling and also in Poor Relief)?
      • How to follow through with singular/plural forms, ways of labeling professions vs abstract social functions?


      We would be very happy to hear from participants reflecting diverse backgrounds and legal traditions, and to discuss the challenges of generalizing or applying such concepts schemes across historical epochs and geographical spaces. Thus, we cordially invite everyone interested in these questions and in interoperable data for historical legal regulations to join us and contribute their experiences, questions and challenges. If you are interested in joining us, please drop me a brief note so that I can send you the login details.


      Andreas Wagner



      This topic was also posted in: Digital Humanists, Linked Open Data, Legal history.
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