It’s 1997 and I’m a British kid in rural Canada, learning about geography. Mme Trépanier is explaining how the allocation of farmland was once organized in Québec. The seigneur owned a big piece of land, and would rent out long, thin strips of land to his tenants. They were that shape so that each parcel could be adjacent to a piece of riverside. I remember thinking that it was nice of the seigneur to organize it like that.

We had a computer at home, and like everyone, I spent a lot of time waiting for it to do things. I enjoyed looking at the Windows disk defragmentation tool, which, like the seigneur, also promised to organize its available space efficiently.

And then there was the river. I heard it hundreds of times, when no-one else was using the phone line and I could begin the dial-up process. Some of the modem’s chirps and twangs obviously belonged to it, and others belonged to something outside of it. You knew you were connected when you heard the rich static, after the high-pitched static, after the twangs.

Now I know that it was pink noise: random sound equally distributed across the audible spectrum. But then, it was just an infinite flow, with me there, touching a piece of it.

Daniel Reeve is an academic. In September, he will begin a postdoctoral fellowship at the ICI Berlin.