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Open Letter to Carol Bartz, CEO of Yahoo!

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dear Mrs. Bartz,    Nov 2, 2009

We've never met, and probably never will, but I would like to ask your cooperation in a matter that I think is of great importance.

Somehow Yahoo! has made the decision on pulling the plug on GeoCities.

Presumably this was in order to cut costs, and improve Yahoos' profitability, which was the subject of some discussion in the last couple of months, and which led to you becoming CEO of Yahoo! in the first place.

I understand the motive and the need for Yahoo! to look after the interests of its shareholders.

Now, it is not in the power of small folks like me to influence board room decisions made at your level, but in this case I think a grave mistake has been made.

When the Taliban decided to blow up those antique statues a while ago there was worldwide uproar. Thousands upon thousands of people spoke out against it, recognized that what was lost here was a unique statement of the cultural state of mankind, a sense of loss was felt by all.

In the name of religion culture was destroyed.

And now, perhaps unwittingly, Yahoo! has committed a similar act. When those statues were blown up it was clearly an act of vandalism. That we are not in our lifetimes going to travel to Afghanistan to see them is a small detail.

But Yahoo! GeoCities pages were a monument too, and were accessible to (and accessed by) millions from all over the world. It was not just a business unit, it was something that mankind made, that Yahoo! had custody over.

It was a monument that stood as testimony to the birth of the World Wide Web, something that will surely occupy the scholars of the future. To Yahoo! it may have simply been a bunch of bits on some hard disks. But to humanity is was much more than that.

In the name of commerce culture was destroyed.

In the business world there is plenty of precedent for the donation of unwanted items to musea, and this is a prime opportunity for Yahoo! to show it really cares about the content that its users entrust it with, and what to do with content once a web business is no longer viable.

I can't believe that once this has been pointed out to you that you will not recognize the truth of it, and I urgently ask you to do one of the following things:

If you don't do that you run the risk of being mentioned right alongside the Taliban, and that's not a place in history worth having.

It doesn't cost you anything, and mankind will be grateful to you for ever.

Yours Sincerely,

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