Richard Thieme

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Person.png Richard Thieme  Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Richard Thieme 2004.JPG
Other namesRichard F. Thieme
OccupationEx-Episcopal priest, commentator on technology and culture
Founder/Owner ofThiemeworks
Interests • UFOs
• technology
• Defcon

Richard Thieme 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

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

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.[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

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,[24][25][26][9][20][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]


Documents by Richard Thieme

TitleDocument typePublication dateSubject(s)Description
Document:Hacker Generationsarticle23 August 2011Mass surveillance
Total information awareness
On the origins and real meaning of "Hacker"; a term which, in company with "conspiracy-theory", "Holocaust-denial" and many others has been co-opted/invented by Establishments to marginalise research deemed most threatening to the Official Narratives that define "Consensus trance" reality.
Document:It’s Identity, Stupidarticle1 March 2013Intelligence agency
Intentity politics
Insights into the real, counter-intuitive purposes and functioning of intelligence and security services. As a consequence of their determination of developments in surveillance, computing and related esoteric military technologies, their role of service to democratically determined policy has morphed into hidden, unaccountable shapers and arbiters of all policy that matters.
Document:Out of the Closet on UFOsarticle16 February 2014UFORichard Thieme admitting to believing in UFO's (the variety that have no explanation other than that they are the transports of non-human sentient beings or robots and of other than earthly origin).
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  2. a b
  3. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel May 26, 1997, Computer-savvy ex-priest melds technical, spiritual, Hawkins, Lee Jr
  4. Briney, Andrew, Islands in the Clickstream, 2004, Foreword
  5. a b c d
  6. Islands, p. ix
  7. a b c St. Paul's new rector feels at home in city, August 29, 1987, Mary Beth Murphy, Milwaukee Sentinel
  9. a b Danny Bradbury, Documentation dearth undermines open source security, Infosecurity Today, volume 1, issue 5, 2004, page 6
  11. Fox Point's Richard Thieme discusses UFO research book at North Shore library
  12. Joyce Christiansen, St. Paul's rector is retiring after 23 years service, November 3, 1979
  13. Bishop celebrates 10th anniversary at diocesan meet, June 27, 1981, Joyce Christiansen, Deseret News
  14. Kendall, Peter, Milwaukee Business Journal|, 1994, On the Money - An investor's greatest asset: to know, or own, oneself
  15. Online church offers different approaches, Billings Gazette, June 25, 2004
  16. Meet your avatars online - electronic church is an experiment in high-tech religion, Kansas City Star, July 10, 2004, Tom Heinen
  18. Peter Kendall, The watch isn't broken, it's just wound very tight, Milwaukee Business Journal, October 28, 1995, page 13
  20. a b
  28. The outer limits - former priest to speak about UFO book, The Freeman, July 6, 2013, Gregg Wandsneider
  29. UFOs get historical, scientific treatment, Milwaukee Journal Sentinal, November 29, 2012, Jackie Loohauis-Bennett
  30. Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, volume 50, issue 6, February 2013, Reviews: UFOs and government: a historical inquiry - "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.", R. Fritze


Nonfiction books

  • Islands in the Clickstream, 2004, ISBN 1-931836-22-1.
  • UFOs and Government: A Historical Inquiry (as a contributor)

Selected fiction

  • "Pleasant Journey". Analog. Project Gutenberg. November 1963. Retrieved December 12, 2013.
  • "Less than the sum of the movable parts". Future Fire. 2008. Retrieved December 15, 2013.
  • Ashley, Allen (2008). "Silent Emergent, Doubly Dark". In Ashley, Allen (ed.). Subtle Edens. ISBN 9780955318191.
  • Mind Games. Syngress. 2010. ISBN 978-0-938326-24-3.

Contributed chapters

  • "Entering Sacred Digital Space" ISBN 9780567026606.
  • "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)

Selected articles

  • In Search of the Grail Wired Magazine, issue 3.07, July 1995
  • Bladerunner future view Everything Toronto NOW, 1997
  • Dreams Engineers Have CMC Magazine, January 1997
  • Prime Time for Hackers is Over, October 17, 1998
  • "Designing the future". Forbes. February 8, 1999. Retrieved December 15, 2013.
  • Review of the Kevin Kelly's Out of Control Enculturation 3.1, Spring 2000
  • Operation Paperclip Revisited: Moral Schmoral CounterPunch, August 22, 2003
  • "My Last Talk with Gary Webb". CounterPunch. December 14, 2004. Retrieved December 15, 2013. (about investigative reporter Gary Webb (1955–2004))
  • The Face we See in the Digital Mirror: How Technology is Changing Religion National Catholic Reporter, February 11, 2005

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

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