Comments and Responses:

What Clients and Readers Have Said About Richard Thieme


“Truth is stranger and more complex than any fiction humans can create. Thieme’s work is put forward in the guise of plausible fiction – think of P.K. Dick or Haruki Murakami. The novel FOAM is ultimately about being conscious and being human, with the recognition of all the glories and flaws inherent in both conditions. … Intellectually and emotionally, every contact with Richard is like setting out on an epic journey into the unknown, with no idea where you’re going to end up, but knowing with absolute certainty that with Richard as your guide and companion, the journey will be marvelous and quite often life-changing.”
Kenneth Olthoff


“Thieme’s ability to communicate complex, abstract concepts and personalize and internalize them is like watching verbal origami performed in front of your eyes. His ability to be open-minded, conspiratorial, ethical and subversive all at the same time is inspiring.”

Addressing Thieme’s contribution to Def Con: “You are a long term contributor, and unique. You helped define the space of Def Con.”

Jeff Moss, a.k.a. Dark Tangent

Founder of Def Con and the Black Hat Briefings

“Give me Richard Thieme. His mind is in orbit but his feet are on the ground.”
Dan Geer

CISO, In-Q-Tel (CIA)

“Thieme’s insights are profound.”

Bruce Schneier

Author and security technologist

“Deeply thoughtful. Thieme’s work is enlightening, reflective, and refreshing.”

Peter Neumann

Principal Scientist, SRI International Computer Science Laboratory

“Richard Thieme is one of the rare people who ‘gets it’ regarding the relationship between networking, technology, and people. Always provocative and interesting, Richard’s voice is one I always heed.”

Marcus Ranum

Network Flight Record and Chief Scientist, TruSecure

“Thieme’s ability to mesmerize a thousand geeks (at Def Con) without a single multi-media prop in sight was inspiring.”
a hacker

“Richard Thieme discusses the unintended consequences of technological progress, as well as extrapolating the expected consequences. He not only discusses the new capabilities that will be available to humans, but also what impact living in the context of such capabilities will do to what it means to be human. The depth, complexity, and texture of Thieme’s thought processes break the mold.”
Brian Snow

Senior Technical Director, NSA

“Thieme’s writing represents a glimpse into the inner workings of a most extraordinary mind.”
Becky Bace


“Richard, your observations and insights always cut to my core. You say things that most never think about, and bring light to those things that remain, for many, deeply hidden. You are the bringer of empathy. The man who warms the place that is always cold and dark within our chest. It is an honor to know a soul such as yours, which is so kind and powerful, and helps so many.”
Information Security Professional

“You are a practitioner of wu wei, the effort to choose the elegant appropriate contribution to each and every issue you address.”

Hal McConnell


Richard Thieme is a “hacker philosopher journalist sage.” who fills an important niche by speaking eloquently about the relationships between technology, people, and spirituality. He speaks straight to the heart and receives the only standing ovations I have ever  witnessed at Def Con.

Mick Bauer

Security Editor, Linux Journal

“Your writing makes me discover life again and again.”


Central Intelligence and Security Agency, Suriname

Richard Thieme has a knack for not just writing about technology, but exploring and breaking down the intersection between technology, politics, society, and humanity. A needed and unique voice from a unique perspective on the bridge between the techno-mainstream and its counterpart — the cutting edge. With Richard, there is no spoon.

Mark Loveless AKA Simple Nomad


Richard Thieme is an extraordinary person in every sense. Only someone who has lived different lives and could cope with what those had in stock for him, who sees with soft eyes while reflecting everything around him, can express the meta layer of today’s world and technology as the one thing that it is.

His writing is a Klein bottle of wisdom: It has an infinite surface while being artful and funny at the same time.”

Felix Lindner

(FX), Phenolit

“Thieme’s words more than inspire, they teach us how to think. The reader is left reeling, dizzy with insight.”
Robin Roberts


“Thieme takes us to the edges of cliffs we know are there but rarely visit. He wonderfully weaves together life, mystery, and passion with creativity and imagination.”
Clinton C. Brooks

Senior Adviser for Homeland Security and Asst. Deputy Director, NSA

“Richard Thieme is an artist of words and ideas. He brings life to thoughts and creates a new world that is parallel to ours. He teaches experts to see with “beginner’s eyes” and hackers to think like philosophers.”

Sol Tzvi

Senior Security Practitioner, Microsoft

WOW!!! you eloquently express thoughts and ideas that I feel. You have helped me, not so much tear down barriers to communication, as to leverage these barriers into another structure with elevators and escalators.

Chip Meadows

e-Security Team, USAA

“Richard Thieme is the real Enoch Root.”


Richard Thieme presents us with a rare gift. His words touch our hearts while challenging our most cherished constructs. He is both a poet and pragmatist navigating a new world with clarity, curiosity, and boundless amazement.
Kelly Hansen

CEO, Neohapsis

An Appreciation from a Peer

“I find myself enveloped by the politics of two institutions (university and intelligence service). While truly facing external pressures, you are fortunate to have been enveloped only by the politics of One (e.g. yourself). Your experiences dancing with the 800 pound bear (the IC) have likely been more fortunate than your friends and their colleagues who have had to not only dance with the bear but have the bear live in their house. There are significant consequences in living with a semi-wild animal in your home. Dry spells come and go, but i think you should feel proud of your 25 year streak of good fortune. I once described you to a group of intelligence officials as a sort of high priest to the hacking community, taking the role of spiritual guide in guiding them through the digital wilderness. Nothing will ever take that important historical role away from you. You should be proud of your accomplishments and continue to graciously gift us with your wisdom and your stories, as God knows we could use them.”

“As your experiences in the IC add additional cognitive layers of dissonance and your mind works to resolve them, you build up more cognitive and emotional complex structures to deal with the ironies of the situation. Sort of like scar tissue. At some point the accretion of these structures becomes too unstable and the structures collapse. At that point you either resign and hide the leftover emotional scars or you go the whistleblower route. Good job friend.”


“Thieme’s very imaginative writing has a complexity that raises the narrative to the fringes of slipstream. We’re left wondering what’s real and what’s not.”
Steven Pirie

The Future Fire (UK)

“LAN is wading into the world of philosophy with the help of a prominent American techno-philosopher – Richard Thieme.”
Steven Pirie

LAN Magazine (Australia/New Zealand)

“Richard Thieme, the author of Islands in the Clickstream, seems quite at home in a metaphysical milieu. He is a uniquely qualified author whose work is contemporaneous to most major developments in the online world. His focus is on a rhetorical dialogue of change in which the human condition takes center stage. Some of his strongest prose has nothing to do with technology at all. Searching for meaning in the technological arms race of the millennial planet, Thieme outlines a quest for knowledge, meaning, and support that is not fulfilled in our analog lives and gives rise to the need to go digital. Richard Thieme is a contrarian in a field of innovators.”
Caz McChrystal

“Swimming the Clickstream”, Shepherd Express

“Thieme is a mostly digital man in a transforming analog world. He has more than a little of the rock star in him considering that at international conferences, he has served as the bookend for people like Steve Balmer, CEO of Microsoft, Bob Woodward of Watergate fame, and Leon Panetta, former CIA Director. Like the streams of data that scroll by in the movie, The Matrix, he is at once dazzling and befuddling. His mind works in bursts of information and he leaps from esoteric topic to esoteric topic. Fearless and good-natured as he is, one can only hope that should a time machine be developed, he’ll get the first ride.”
Judy Steininger

"Techno-Philosopher”, M Magazine

“a member of the cyber avant-garde”

“a father figure for online culture”
London Sunday Telegraph

“a keen observer of hacker attitudes and behaviors”
Le Monde

“The Greek philosopher Socrates said, ‘Know thyself!’ Richard Thieme relates self©knowledge to institutional and personal transformation. People often ask me about politics. Before running for office, I tell them, be like a samurai warrior: search within yourself. Richard, reading the things you write and talking to you is absolutely fascinating.”
Wayne Youngquist

Political Analyst, WISN-TV Milwaukee

“Building a bon fire out of the flotsam and jetsam that has washed up on his febrile mind, Richard Thieme strikes a light matched only by his innocent incandescent bloom.”
Richard Longhurst

.net (the internet magazine) UK

“Richard Thieme speaks on technology; I haven’t seen any other speaker who could blend that subject with spirituality—but he does. He puts a positive spin on topics that are grossly and negatively over-sensationalized, and he touches the widest demographic I’ve ever seen—from top-level government security experts to 18-year-old hackers.”
Barbara Scofidio

Corporate Meetings and Incentives

“Richard Thieme chaired a working group on informed consent at the Intelligence Ethics Section of the Joint Services Conference and shared responsibility for building the Intelligence Ethics Collection at the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University.”

National Catholic Reporter

“Richard Thieme specializes in the human dimension of technology and publishes a weekly delight called Islands in the Clickstream.”
Chris Lazzarino

“Windows to Wisdom”, Meridian

“an online pundit of hacker culture”
LA Times

“one of the most creative minds of the digital generation”

“an online pundit of hacker culture”

Los Angeles Times

“Richard Thieme is a rare collection of things: clergyman, investor, consultant on business ethics and quality, philosopher. He was a featured speaker at The Contrary Opinion Forum, a venue for contrarian views on the stock market.”
Daniel Kadlec

USA Today

“Richard Thieme speaks on the human dimensions of technology, work, and life. He is the only speaker to ever receive a standing ovation at DefCon.”
Susan Hatch

Technology Meetings

“Richard Thieme, part author, part techno-philosopher, has been writing and speaking for 20 years about technology and its effects on our culture. In the 1980s, when the era of personal home computers was in its infancy, he recognized that we were on the cusp of a technological revolution.”
Susan Harpt Grimes

“Richard Thieme’s Take on Technology and its Effects”, Shepherd Express

“Richard Thieme knows whereof he speaks.”

Honolulu Advertiser

“In-Q-Tel Meets Dark Tangent. Who could resist?”
Barton Gellman

Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist

“Technology and spirituality are not mutually exclusive, you’ll find from Richard Thieme and his “Islands in the Clickstream.”
Tech Extra

USA Today


“You could have heard a pin drop while you were speaking as our membership found your presentation so interesting and stimulating. The standing ovation said it all!

We have had some of the best speakers in the United States – Milton Friedman, Newt Gingrich, President George Bush, Alan Greenspan and Arthur Burns, George Gilder, Nobel Prize winner Gary Becker, Beryl Sprinkel and Walter Heller, Donald Rumsfeld and George Schultz … and now Richard Thieme.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!”

Economic Club of Sheboygan

“Richard’s presentation at IT-Defense 2009 stood out because he managed to make the audience think beyond their normal IT environment. It was a presentation that got best feedback from the attendees and motivated a lot of discussions. Richard is one of the few people that can stand in front of an audience without PowerPoint slides and without technical details and get the attention of people with completely different background.

IT Defense

Potsdam, Germany

“Richard Thieme has presented the keynote address at four of MIS Training Institute’s conferences, appearing before as many as 1,000 people at a time and consistently keeping the audience riveted for the duration of his speech. While the audience he has addressed on these occasions comprises mainly of IT professionals, Richard’s perspective leads them to see technology in a far broader and more philosophical light than they are used to, introducing them to exciting concepts they have never considered.”

MIS Training Institute

Thank you again for presenting the opening keynote address for the WBT Producer Conference & Expo. Your presentation was wonderful. Below is an email from an attendee who wrote to say how much he valued your presentation. He was not alone. All during the conference, I had attendees coming up to me to tell me how much they enjoyed your presentation… and chastising me for not recording it so they could listen to it again. They also commented on how surprised and delighted they were that you did not just fly in, give the presentation, and fly out… but instead stayed for the entire event.

– Influent Technology Group

(To: Heidi Fisk/MISTI_BOS@MISTI_BOS  – Choosing Thieme as the intro speaker was inspired. His ideas were expansive and universal, which set an atmosphere for the rest of the event. Much better than an introspective industry talk. …

“Your presentation was delightful.  The world-class scientists in attendance loved your approachable style as well as your insights.”

Coordinator of the UOP/Allied Signal Invitational Lecture Series

“Because of you and your superb talk, conversations are surfacing dealing with issues never before thought about, much less discussed. You challenged us to move to new heights as a living organization. The new awareness you gave us means we may have a chance to be a place where everyone can reach their potential.”

Firstar Bank

“You leave audiences mesmerized.”

Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company

“Three qualities in Richard have made him an ideal fit to address technical security audiences: Level of preparation, ability to make complex topics consumable, and humor & wit.

“Mind-bender” and “he really made me re-think how I think” are common remarks from our attendees who hear Richard speak. He has a knack for taking technical topics and boiling them down to essential human concerns. He is a “futurist” in the truest sense of the word.

Finally, if you need someone to increase the energy of a group, Richard is a great choice. His humor and wit are sophisticated, but put a room full of professionals at ease. He unfailingly brings inspiration and hope to our audience. Attendees walk out of our events with Richard’s words stuck in their brains, and a sense of what’s possible.”


Six Speeches in Six Cities, New Zealand

“Richard has the ability to make you think. Not just think, but think beyond your normal comfortable boundaries. The fact he keeps getting invited back to speak at the same high profile conferences speaks volumes for his qualities. His vendor independence is also a very redeeming attribute.ry redeeming attribute. … After sitting through countless speakers and death by power point it is very refreshing to put down the pens, listen, think and be challenged. I have heard Richard four times now and each time I have been challenged to think. After the Wellington session I contacted many of the attendees and they all found it a similar experience and all would by happy to hear him speak again. Richard fits into a small bracket of speakers that I find inspirational rather than just very interesting. I have been on the organising committee of eight conferences and I would put Richard into the top keynote speaker either to open or close the conference with no hesitation.”

Rob McNie

Aukland, New Zealand


“I quite liked your story. I’ve been reading science fiction lately and your story (“More Than a Dream,” in Mind Games) was right up there.”

John Updike

Well before Blogs there were the Islands in the Clickstream, its stories, daily and weekly, often becoming our stories, vivid and compelling parables for an information age.   For almost a decade now Richard Thieme’s profound and poetic contributions have ministered to what makes us multiple.  As a pastor to a floating congregation he has called us to our own possibilities and variations, his voice echoing across the waters, his and our images reflected in the flow. He has long been among my teachers, an actual presence here in this networked archipelago.

Michael Joyce

author of Afternoon and other hypertext fiction

“Richard Thieme, creator of Islands in the Clickstream (2004), Mind Games (2010), and co-author of UFOs and Government: A Historical Inquiry (2012), is today’s most prominent voice among tech savvy philosophers. Thieme’s prominence in the underworld of technical experts has been built upon public speeches to thriving communities such as Defcon and Blackhat. Thieme’s stature as a wise man in the hacker and security communities has been built over years of speaking truth to power and not backing down.

Moreover, Thieme not only fills the gap between tech philosophies of the future for the current generation, but also stretches the readers imagination toward a broader sense of reality that includes questioning comfort in the matrix like structures that hold each one of us hostage. Seeing through the veil of government secrecy, societal morality, and misinformation, creates a bond of trust between Thieme and his readers.

In conclusion, Thieme seems to be taking on the voice of a generation, sick and tired of being relegated and silenced, while business, government, and terror runs a muck. Thieme not only participates in the conferences which confront these issues, but seems to understand the convergence between those holding on to power and those who seek to know the truth about events that have happened (such as the current NSA scandal). In time, one can only hope that the rest of humanity comes to the vital conclusion that human beings create and support their own reality structures, and that the choice to go down the rabbit hole is to choose freedom and liberty over comfort and tyranny.”

Cory Farr

A review of Thieme's work

Richard Thieme combines hi-tech, business savvy and social consciousness to create some of the most penetrating commentaries of out times.

Peter Russell

author "From Science to God"

“Richard Thieme writes pure analytical poetry – I can’t describe how much I enjoy his beautifully written insights. His theme reminds of the long battle that we have waged to get policy makers and infosec professionals to realize that technical solutions play only a partial role in defending us but that building a better more comprehensive understanding of the relationship between people and technology is a key to predicting and preparing for future threats that emerge in the cyber domain.”


“I am deeply grateful to you … one seldom finds one so discerning.”

John Cheever

Tweets During Speeches

Source Boston

Can’t wait to watch the replay of Dan Geer & Richard Thieme‘s fireside chat. Quite possibly my favorite Source talk ever.

Amazing fireside chat with Dan Geer and Richard Thieme this morning.

Good thing others live tweeted the fireside talk with Dan Geer and Richard Thieme. I was too engaged to do it myself

Great fireside chat between Geer, Thieme, and Josh Corman. I could watch these guys chat all day.

Thieme & Geer pack words & thoughts so densely they require multi-listenings

I want to flag a talk on the morning agenda that ought to be good: Josh Corman will moderate a “fireside chat” between two security legends: Dan Geer and Richard Thieme.

Thieme: Leadership is communicating clearly and consistently where the water is going.

Thieme: Biohacking today is where computer hacking was in the 80s/90s. We should be talking about the ethical quandaries

Thieme: “Emergence of group learning is like cells realizing they’re part of greater whole, vs. ending at cell wall”

Love Richard Thieme‘s description of the transition period in security being like the terminal line on the moon.
GIS Industry (…and all industries) could learn a lot from Richard Thieme

Security Summit – South Africa

Thuthuka.Sitholee: “Listening to Richard Thieme: GENIUS”

Richard has my attention.

ok converted! Richard Thieme has got some serious valid points!

This is deep stuff.

Richard’s talk is *packed* with info! Definitely need to touch base with him afterward

Privacy and Security – Victoria BC

Richard Thieme ruined the ability for anyone after him to do powerpoint with writing on it. This is long overdue

How do you live in a world without walls? “Be Mindful and Vigilant” –Richard Thieme

Richard Thieme‘s keynote speech was excellent.

Phenomenal Keynote by Richard Thieme. The entire conference was hanging on his every word!

Richard Thieme keynote was enthralling, exceptional speaker, provocative thoughts

Richard Thieme is entertaining.

Listening to author Richard Thieme‘s session – informative, funny & thought provoking

Richard Thieme great presentation

Your closing keynote knocked it out of the park. Nothing but enthusiastic positives from attendees.

HITB Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

“What it is that you do that make you and simultaneously the whole world better?” – Richard Thieme

Wise words from Richard Thieme

Eye opening stuff from Richard Thieme.

Richard Thieme, a rare breed…

zacon – South Africa

Mind being blown

TIme for Richard Thieme, prepare to get your mind blown

keynote with Richard Thieme. What a great way to end an awesome day.

Def Con Black Hat Bsides

Great talk by neuralcowboy at #defcon on govt disinformation and social control

Got a beer and am ready for @neuralcowboy to warp my mind as the last session

5 mins into the talk and its worth the 20000 km I’ve made to come here! Wow!!!

Richard Thieme still brings it.

I saw your talk and loved it.

amazing talk! Is it available anywhere? That’s a message that needs wider exposure.

Richard Thieme awesome.

Richard Thieme is brilliant

Saw my first Richard Thieme talk the other day. One of the few times I wished for a longer session. Top of my speaker list for future cons.

Richard Thieme doesn’t use slides. Best speaker at Blackhat. All the speakers could learn from him. Awesome.

Richard If you’ve never seen him before, don’t miss this one.

Just picked up “islands in the clickstream” on amazon by @Neuralcowboy Richard Thieme. Next payday I’m ordering “Mind Games”. Can’t wait!

incredible talk from Richard Thieme, makes up a bit for the missing Android talk I got up for earlier.

Richard Thieme is giving a great talk.

“When your doing a job you know can’t be done…” Richard Thieme at #defcon, relevant to security burnout.

Thank you Richard Thieme. Mind blowing talk today. Keep ’em coming.

“Encryption = the opiate of the naive” – AMEN brother Richard!

Amazing talk by Richard Thieme at #BlackHat, I’ll have to watch it again later. There’s a lot to grok here.

Taking in some visceral truth from Richard Thieme: “We can’t help but be assimilated into the cultures we’re in. The borg is us.”

Richard Thieme: “What keeps me up at night? Chief Technologist of CIA telling me he can’t sleep at night.”

School Districts

“Your presentation was excellent. Your message was clear, unique, and engaged our professional audience with your use of literary references, rich vocabulary, humor, and personal experiences. One said you were the best speaker she had heard in recent years.”

“You delivered an inspirational, informative message that set the tone for a positive day of learning. Teachers repeatedly echoed that you hit the nail on the head.”

” … one of the most interesting and thought-provoking inservices we have ever had.”

“Following your departure, I personally basked in the excellence of your presentation for the remainder of the conference. People repeatedly came to me expressing gratitude or congratulations.”

“Your words were very moving. Even the critics of our program planning had very positive words and compliments on your presentation!” “You have a genius,” wrote an excited client, “ for connecting with every individual in a large group.”

” … one of the most satisfying in-services I have attended in my 23 years of education.”

“Had Siskel and Ebert been present you would have received two thumbs up! Our staff needed to be assured of the value of their work, challenged to continue to strive for excellence and dared to accept change as positive. You certainly accomplished all of those goals.”

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