My older ibook g4 is locked up with an icon flashing. looks like a file folder flashing a blue and white face/question mark. what is this?

my older ibook g4 is locked up with an icon flashing. looks like a file folder flashing a blue and white face/question mark. what is this?

Apple's suggestions for dealing with the flashing question mark folder:
http://support.apple.com/kb/TS1440?viewlocale=en_US
Niel has summed it up pretty nicely.

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