Richard Thieme

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Richard Thieme
Richard Thieme 2004.JPG
Richard Thieme, 2004
Other namesRichard F. Thieme
OccupationEx-Episcopal priest, commentator on technology and culture

Richard Thieme (born 1944), is a former priest who became a commentator on technology and culture, founding the consulting firm ThiemeWorks. He is a frequent keynote speaker at government agencies and technology conferences around the world, routinely drawing large audiences, and is described as an "institution" and "father figure" in the hacker convention circuit.[1][2] He is the author of the syndicated column "Islands in the Clickstream", which was published in 60 countries and in 2004 was turned into a book of the same name. In 2010 he published a book of short stories, Mind Games, and in 2012 he contributed to the peer-reviewed academic work, UFOs and Government, a Historical Inquiry. He has written for multiple publications including Wired, Forbes, and[3] Andrew Briney, editor-in-chief of Information Security magazine, describes Thieme as "a living symbol of the human dimension of technology".[4]


Early life and academic career[edit]

Thieme was born in Chicago, with one of his parents Christian and one Jewish, and one older brother, Art.[5][6] Raised Jewish, Thieme was confirmed as a young man in a Reform synagogue,[7] and attended Lake View High School, graduating in 1961. As a teenager he began writing science fiction, with his first story, "Pleasant Journey", published by Joseph Campbell in Analog science fiction magazine in 1963, when Thieme was 19.[8] Thieme studied English literature at Northwestern University,[5] graduating Phi Beta Kappa and receiving his B.A. in 1965, and also marrying and starting a family.[9] In 1967, he earned an M.A. in English at the University of Chicago. For the next five years he taught literature at the University of Illinois - Chicago Circle campus, after which he moved to England for two years. There, at age 30, he converted to the Anglican church.[7]

Episcopal priest[edit]

When Thieme and his wife returned to the United States in the 1970s, they moved to Evanston, Illinois, where Thieme attended Seabury-Western Theological Seminary to earn his Masters of Divinity degree, and he became an Episcopal priest.[10][11] His wife Anne was ordained in May 1978, the first woman to be ordained an Episcopal priest in Utah.[12] The Thiemes were co-rectors at St. James Episcopal Church in Midvale, Utah, but divorced in 1981. Richard remained as rector in the parish until 1984,[13] then transferred to become rector at the Holy Innocents church in Hawaii (1984–1987),[7] and St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Milwaukee (1987–1993).[14] He married his second (and current) wife Shirley in 1983, merging their respective families to have a total of seven children.[5]

Technology commentator and author[edit]

In the early 1980s Thieme became acquainted with computers, at first interested in how they could apply to spirituality and religious organizations.[15][16] While still in the priesthood, he began writing about technology and culture, including the spiritual dimension of technology, for example in his essay "Computer applications for spirituality, the transformation of religious experience."[17] In 1993 Thieme left the priesthood to pursue a full-time career of professional speaking and writing,[5] founding his own company, LifeWorks (changed in 1996 to ThiemeWorks),[18] and working with clients such as Arthur Andersen, Allstate Insurance, General Electric, the National Security Agency, Microsoft, and the United States Department of the Treasury.[19][20]

In the mid-1990s, Thieme started writing a monthly online column, "Islands in the Clickstream". It began as emails and then grew into a mailing list, website, and syndicated column. Thieme gained a reputation as an "online pundit of hacker culture."[21] In 2004 a collection of 144 of his essays were published in the book Islands in the Clickstream.[22][23]

Regarded as a member of the "cyber avant-garde", Thieme has spoken for nearly two decades, since the mid-1990s, at the Def Con and Blackhat Briefings security conferences, focusing on the impact of new technologies on individuals and organizational structures, with an emphasis on security and intelligence,[9][20][24][25][26][27] and he has become somewhat of a "father figure" to many in the hacker subculture.[2]

In 2010, Thieme published Mind Games, which collected the various works of fiction he'd published in different locations into one place. In 2012, he contributed to the non-fiction book UFOs and Government: A Historical Inquiry, which examines the government's treatment of UFO reports, going back to World War II.[28][29] The book was praised by the magazine Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries for good sourcing, and recommended as "a useful resource for the study of a controversial topic".[30]


Nonfiction books
  • Islands in the Clickstream. Rockland, Mass.: Syngress. 2004. ISBN 1-931836-22-1.
  • (contributor) Michael Swords and Robert Powell (2012). UFOs and Government: A Historical Inquiry. Richard Thieme, Clas Svahn, Vicente-Juan Ballester Olmos, Bill Chalker, Barry Greenwood, Jan Aldrich, and Steve Purcell. ISBN 978-1933665580.
Selected fiction
Contributed chapters
  • Fowler, Robert M.; Blumhofer, Edith; Segovia, Fernando F. (2004). "Entering Sacred Digital Space". In Fowler, Robert M.; Ilumhofer, Edith; Segovia, Fernando F. (eds.). New Paradigms for Bible Study: The Bible in the Third Millennium. ISBN 9780567026606.CS1 maint: uses editors parameter (link)
  • "Identity/Destiny". Prophecy Anthology, Volume 1. 2004. ISBN 978-0974653105.
  • The Changing Context of Intelligence and Ethics: Enabling Technologies as Transformational Engines in the proceedings of the New Paradigms for Security Workshop (2008) and in the Ethical Spectacle ( as "Changing Contexts of Security and Ethics: You Can’t Have One Without the Other"
Selected articles
Selected keynotes
  • The Symbiotic Relationship Between Networked Computers and Humans -- A Dialectic Constituting a Rising Spiral of Mutual Transformation. Def Con, 1996[31]
  • Convergence -- Every Man (and Woman) a Spy., Black Hat Briefings, 1998
  • The More Things Change The More They Don't: Soft Destruction and the Ancient Wisdom of Hacking, Def Con, 1998[32]
  • Social Engineering at Def Con: Games Hackers Play, Def Con, 2000
  • "Hacking and Cycles of Truths, Half-Truths and Boldfaced Lies", Rubi Con, 2000[33]
  • Hacking a Trans-Planetary Net: The Essence of Hacking in a Context of Pan-global Culture, the Wetware / dryware Interface, and Going to Europa., Def Con, 2001
  • The Truth About Life, Hacking and the Truth (about Life, Hacking and the Truth) ((about Life, Hacking and...)) Rubi-Con, 2002
  • Hacker Generations: From Building the Network to Using the Network to Being the Network, Def Con, 2003
  • Quantum Hacking: In Search of a Unified Theory, Def Con, 2004
  • Zen and The Relevance of Perception to Cyber Security, or, When is a Network Not a Network?, Shmoocon, 2005
  • Living on the Edge: The Sources of Creativity for Security Wizards and Hackers, Notacon, 2005
  • Staring into the Abyss: The Dark Side of Security and Professional Intelligence, Black Hat Briefings, 2011


  1. ^ Bauer, Mick (December 27, 2004). "Interview with Richard Thieme". Linux Journal. Retrieved December 11, 2013.
  2. ^ a b "Stakes are higher for hackers in post-Sept. 11 world". USA Today. Reuters. August 12, 2000. Retrieved December 12, 2013.
  3. ^ Hawkins, Lee Jr. (May 26, 1997). "Computer-savvy ex-priest melds technical, spiritual". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved December 11, 2013.
  4. ^ Briney, Andrew (2004). "Foreword". Islands in the Clickstream. p. xx.
  5. ^ a b c d Steininger, Judy (October 2004). "Techno-Philosopher" (PDF). M Magazine. pp. 24–25.
  6. ^ Islands, p. ix
  7. ^ a b c Murphy, Mary Beth (August 29, 1987). "St. Paul's new rector feels at home in city". Milwaukee Sentinel. Retrieved December 15, 2013.
  8. ^ "Bibliography: Pleasant Journey". Retrieved December 12, 2013.
  9. ^ a b Bradbury, Danny (2004). "Documentation dearth undermines open source security". Infosecurity Today. 1 (5). p. 6.
  10. ^ "Richard Thieme". 2004. Retrieved December 12, 2013.
  11. ^ Switalski, Danielle (May 20, 2013). "Fox Point's Richard Thieme discusses UFO research book at North Shore library". Whitefish Bay Now. Retrieved December 15, 2013.
  12. ^ Christiansen, Joyce (November 3, 1979). "St. Paul's rector is retiring after 23 years service". Deseret News. Retrieved December 15, 2013.
  13. ^ Christiansen, Joyce (June 27, 1981). "Bishop celebrates 10th anniversary at diocesan meet". Deseret News. Retrieved December 15, 2013.
  14. ^ Kendall, Peter (1994). "On the Money - An investor's greatest asset: to know, or own, oneself". Milwaukee Business Journal.
  15. ^ "Online church offers different approaches". Billings Gazette. June 25, 2004.
  16. ^ Heinen, Tom (July 10, 2004). "Meet your avatars online - electronic church is an experiment in high-tech religion". Kansas City Star.
  17. ^ Fidlin, Dave (September 30, 2004). "Growing with technology: Author aims to inspire acceptance of the digital world". North Shore Herald. p. 16–17.
  18. ^ Kendall, Peter (October 28, 1995). "The watch isn't broken, it's just wound very tight". Milwaukee Business Journal. p. 13.
  19. ^ Garreau, Joel (July 23, 2001). "Science's mything links: As the boundaries of reality expand, our thinking seems to be going over the edge". Washington Post. Retrieved December 12, 2013.
  20. ^ a b Kindler, Lynn (October 17, 2012). "BTR's Hope42Day interviews keynote speaker Richard Thieme" (audio). Blog Talk Radio. Retrieved December 11, 2013.
  21. ^ Accinelli, Laura (July 24, 1997). "Hacking ain't what it used to be". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 13, 2013.
  22. ^ McElhearn, Kird (2004). "Book review: Islands in the Clickstream". Retrieved December 12, 2013.
  23. ^ Bauer, Mick (January 26, 2005). "Book review: Islands in the Clickstream". Linux Journal. Retrieved December 12, 2013.
  24. ^ Messner, Ellen (August 11, 1998). "Convention exposes hackers' dark underbelly". CNN. Retrieved December 11, 2013.
  25. ^ Grimes, Susan Harpt (October 21, 2010). "Richard Thieme's take on technology and its effects". Express Milwaukee. Retrieved December 11, 2013.
  26. ^ "Pentagon still under assault from hackers". New York Times. Reuters. August 9, 2000. Retrieved December 11, 2013.
  27. ^ Goldman, David (August 5, 2011). "Online security doesn't exist". CNN Money. Retrieved December 12, 2013.
  28. ^ Wandsneider, Gregg (July 6, 2013). "The outer limits - former priest to speak about UFO book". The Freeman.
  29. ^ Loohauis-Bennett, Jackie (November 29, 2012). "UFOs get historical, scientific treatment". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
  30. ^ Fritze, R. (February 2013). "Reviews: UFOs and government: a historical inquiry". Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries. 50 (6). Although these nine authors are part of the UFO community, they are not advocates of fringe theories. Their narrative is firmly based on the available sources.... A useful resource for the study of a controversial topic... Recommended, all levels/libraries.
  31. ^ "Def Con 4 Archive". July 26, 1996. Retrieved December 14, 2013.
  32. ^ "Def Con 6 Archive". July 31, 1998. Retrieved December 14, 2013.
  33. ^ "Rubi Con speakers". 2000. Retrieved December 15, 2013.

External links[edit]