Continuing with a series of posts which I now call Killing Field posts, I want to think out loud about files. To be more clear, I am talking about files as seen by users, not programmers.
To casual computer users, a file is a save. I think this is because, in absense of prior understanding, past experience becomes the seed of understanding. Modern UI requires users to save after they created or changed something. So a file is a save to them, a repeatable experience.
As an experience, I think when, where, and how take precendence over what. When did I save that? Where and how did I save? The reason I put where and how together is because they are closely related in today's UI: where is a place and how is navigation (how you got there). Why affects everything, but I am not sure if it's important to users other than for organizing where.
The question I am struggling with is: if they didn't have to save, what would a file be?