This article was published on April 8, 2011

The Laws of Attention by keynote speaker Steve Rubel

The Laws of Attention by keynote speaker Steve Rubel
Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten
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Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten

Founder & board member, TNW

Boris is a serial entrepreneur who founded not only TNW, but also V3 Redirect Services (sold), HubHop Wireless Internet Provider (sold), and Boris is a serial entrepreneur who founded not only TNW, but also V3 Redirect Services (sold), HubHop Wireless Internet Provider (sold), and Boris is very active on Twitter as @Boris and Instagram: @Boris.

Steve Rubel is one of the keynote speakers at The Next web Conference 2011. He is Director of Insights for Edelman Digital, a division of Edelman, the world’s largest public relations firm. Steve studies trends and innovations in media, technology and digital culture and actively shares his observations and insights at, his monthly Advertising Age column, and on Twitter with his 50,000+ followers.

I asked Steve some questions about his ideas on the future of the web and we talked about partying, focus, Charlie Sheen and The Laws of Attention among other things.

TNW: Will this be your first time in Amsterdam?
Steve Rubel: Nope! I visited Amsterdam a few times before. It’s a beautiful city. Bicycles and canals everywhere…

TNW: Our conference is a good place to get inspired and meet people but Amsterdam is also known as a great place to party. Do you plan on indulging in that?
Steve Rubel: I don’t since that’s not my style. I am more business-like; focused on representing Edelman and focused on the job that needs to be done.

TNW: are you concerned/aware of your public image?
Steve Rubel: Not concerned, per se, but just always mindful of my personal goals. But that doesnt mean I don’t have fun! As I said before; Amsterdam is a beautiful city and I plan to check it all out and absorb the local atmosphere and culture.

TNW: Good. Do you think that is something you want to tell entrepreneurs too, to have more focus on what needs to be done? The job?
Steve Rubel: I am not really in a position to advise start-ups on work vs play. However, I believe the best start ups are focused. There’s intense scrutiny on many start-ups right now; scrutiny that comes quick some times. Some aren’t prepared to handle it. It’s not easy.

TNW: Is that something you talk about to clients about at Edelman, that intense scrutiny?
Steve Rubel: Most of the clients I work with are larger – more established. Still, we do advise that these days transparency is at an all time high and they need to be prepared to handle the good and bad that comes with the territory

TNW: Nice. So do you see that changing one way or another in the future, for both individuals, start-ups and bigger companies?
Steve Rubel: Yes and no. It’s not universal. There are many companies that are dying for more attention However, for the larger brands (including personal brands) – yes, I do see that. However, brand size does not always equate with company size (revenues, employees, etc)

TNW: Is that a change from the past that brand size is not equal to company size? And how do you see that changing in the future?
Steve Rubel: I see it as faster and more profound than ever. Companies and people shoot to fame overnight and sometimes fall. The Net has accelerated that trend and opened it up to more people in niches.

TNW: Like Charlie Sheen? Do you think it is a good thing or bad thing he is having a public meltdown as visible as he is?
Steve Rubel: As I see it there’s tons of choices and limited time so I anticipate that we’ll see more rising/falling in the future. Wharhol was right. In some ways, what he is doing is brilliant – at least tactically. The substance/content is another story. For our take on Sheen’s “brillance” see our point of view on this.

TNW: I’m assuming you are referencing Warhol’s prediction that ‘In the future we will all be famous for 15 minutes”? I’d say Warhol’s prediction is very outdated. The new prediction should be ‘In the future everybody will be anonymous for 15 minutes” right?
Steve Rubel: Correct!

TNW: You started out as a blogger and you are now in PR. How do you introduce yourself at parties? ‘Hi, I’m Steve and I’m a…’
Steve Rubel: Actually I have always been in PR – 20 years! I am first and foremost a public relations professional and proud to be one

TNW: so did you bluff your way into blogging then?
Steve Rubel: Ha! No. I basically followed my passion and saw where it took me. That’s been what I have always done. Then around 2004-2005 I saw a way to map them together.

TNW: and now you are following your passion to Amsterdam to talk to people about the future of the web. What do you think people will be able to expect from you at TNW2011?
Steve Rubel: I will discuss the laws of attention and how they are increasingly working against us and offer some strategies on how to mitigate. It’s a challenge we all face; too much content/choice and not enough time. The lessons will be applicable to PR people, marketers, start-ups and more. And they are global in nature.

Reserve your ticket today so you won’t miss out on Steve Rubel and many other inspiring Internet visionaries!