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Unlimited free storage on Yahoo - a boon for biographers?

If you want proof that the cost of computing is falling fast - especially the cost of storage space - you need look no further than Yahoo. From May this year, if you use their online email  system ( you will be able to store as much as you like on their system for free.  Emails, pictures files, music - no problem.  It won't make much difference to most of us - except that it offers the not-to-be-missed opportunity to store the spam messages you get for ever.

Yahoo MailHowever, it might be a hint of relief to worried historians.  Hitherto, anyone writing a biography of, say, Churchill, has had the opportunity of ploughing through the thousands of letters written to, for and by the great man.  But what will happen to emails?  Many historians worry that these intrinsically ephemeral wisps of information will simply fade away or be deleted and that the personal archive of a great person will be a modest affair compared to the past.  So will this infinite storage perhaps help fight this danger?

Perhaps, but have a look deep in the terms of service at Yahoo - they declare: "You agree that ... any rights to your Yahoo! ID or contents within your account terminate upon your death. Upon receipt of a copy of a death certificate, your account may be terminated and all contents therein permanently deleted."

That's pretty clear, and I think that historians should be worried - and should be agitating about it.

What about leaving your emails to someone in your will?


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