Exploring New Metaphors for a Networked World 
through the File Biography

Sian Lindley, Gavin Smyth, Robert Corish, Anastasia Loukianov, Michael Golembewski, Ewa Luger, Abigail Sellen

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


We present a body of work undertaken in response to the challenge outlined by Harper et al. in their paper, ‘What is a File?’ [9], in which we develop the file biography through a conceptual and design-led exploration of new file metaphors for a networked world, and then utilize it in two studies. The file biography is a digital entity that encompasses the provenance of a file and allows the user to keep track of how it propagates. In the studies we (i) asked people to sketch out file biographies for their own content, and (ii) deployed a tool called Milestoner, which enables users to build their own simplified file biographies across multiple versions of Word documents. We conclude that new file metaphors may need to play different roles for different types of digital content, with a distinction being drawn between content that is in production and virtual possessions that are a finished form.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 11 Dec 2017
EventCHI 2018 - Palais des Congrès de Montréal, Montreal, Canada
Duration: 21 Apr 201826 Apr 2018


ConferenceCHI 2018

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