How technical frolicking led to decades of fun

No matter how weird it is, fun is contagious.

Around 1996, we'd started an "anti-corporate sabotage corporation" called ®™ark (don't ask why we called it that). ®™ark was ostensibly a way for illegal anti-corporate actions to be funded—but what it really ended up doing was serving as a sort PR agency for anti-corporate projects. We'd basically "adopt" an illegal/borderline project and blast out a press release about it, saying that we'd funded it, usually to the tune of a few thousand dollars—because money makes things seem serious in a capitalist media environment.

Anyhow, we were soon looking for a new, fresh, modern design for our clunky old website at—and a friend, José Marquez, suggested we take a look at the website of Andersen Consulting. Instead of just taking a look, Andy—who was just becoming a pretty good coder—created a sort of CMS that "skinned" all the content of RTMark with HTML ripped off from The ®™ark website you see now is essentially a replica, with different content, of the old Andersen Consulting site of 1998.

Then came the 1999 Seattle protests. Andy, inspired by the looming protests, created a "shell" for the ®™ark website that looked just like the WTO's website — but contained critical content instead, masquerading as braggadocio.

Instead of paying attention to the 30,000 protesters planning to shut down the WTO "Ministerial," the WTO instead issued a press release (unbelievably still live on their site) claiming our little website "undermined WTO transparency." Nobody noticed their press release, and so their then-head of public relations, Jean-Guy Carrier, himself wrote to the website informing us of the release — presumably so that we would feel bad.

Instead of feeling bad, we sent out the WTO's release to thousands of journalists, who wrote articles about how a powerful organization was so preoccupied with one little fake website. As a result, primitive search engines of the time connected our fake website to the real WTO, and we began receiving a torrent of email, which we did our level best to answer.

Finally, we received an invitation to the WTO's director general from a law conference in Salzburg. It took us three months to answer, but answer we did, resulting in our first impersonation of many over the decades.