July 13, 2012 — Earlier, we caught up with Morehead’s own technology wonder, Google web spam unit leader Matt Cutts.
Today, we conclude our visit with this highly regarded professional as he shares memories and personal feelings about Internet access.
While the Morehead native may no longer call this area home, he hasn’t forgotten his days growing up in small town East Kentucky.
Before taking classes at MSU and graduating from UK, Cutts proudly graced the halls of Rowan County Senior High School.
Your everyday typical student, Cutts lived his life as a Viking to the fullest. Memories still hold a special place in his heart.
“Morehead was a wonderful place to grow up and I'm very fortunate to have loving parents who have always supported me,” Cutts said. “I have fond memories of Calculus with Mrs. Henderson, English with Mrs. Glasser, French with Mrs. Burton, soccer with Coach Shuster, and learning about journalism working on the Viking Voice.”
Initially shy and fearful of speaking in front of crowds, Cutts continued, detailing a lesson by a former influence that helped shape his current career.
“Virginia Landreth, my speech team coach, taught me one of the most important lessons, ‘what you get out of an experience depends on the work that you put in,’” Cutts said. “When I started public speaking, I was so shy that we would basically practice in a broom closet. But by practicing over and over again, I gradually became more confident. Now I get to talk to hundreds of people at search conferences. You can definitely get a world-class education in Kentucky if you're willing to put in the work.”
Lessons learned from his days on the RCSHS speech team seemed to have helped with his willingness to be outspoken, particularly on issues that can impact his company’s existence.
On Oct. 16, 2011, the U.S. Congress introduced legislation, better known as the PIPA and SOPA acts, to essentially place restrictions on Internet content and its providers, such as Google.
The main focus of the bill was to put a stop to the criminal activities surrounding Internet piracy, the illegal downloading of copyrighted material that otherwise requires a paid transaction.
Following a day of protest by many of the web’s biggest names on Jan. 18, including Google, the bill was denied and Internet censorship was temporarily thwarted.
While it may be a controversial topic, it is one that Cutts says simply crossed the line of what is reasonable.
“I'll just give my personal opinion. Online piracy is an issue that's worth tackling but bills like the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) went way too far. In many ways, SOPA could have stopped the internet from working that way it should,” Cutts said.
“The Internet has opened up all kinds of new horizons and new opportunities,” Cutts said. “You can take an online class taught by an MIT professor, learn a new language or trade, and even make friends from all across the world. The Internet is just getting started…we don't want to risk losing those abilities.”
Modern technology has taken on the growth spurt of a puppy, consuming and growing at a rapid rate.
Even with the threat of controversy still looming, Cutts closed with a remark about his love for his profession, encouraging local youth to follow their passion.
“This is a fantastic time to jump into the world of technology,” Cutts said. “A physical store in Morehead will sell mostly to customers who walk through the front door of that business. But there are two billion people on the Internet so an online business can reach further.”
“The trick is to ask yourself, ‘what do I like to do? What can I offer to the world that's interesting, unique, compelling, or different?’ Take advantage of the web to learn new skills and meet other people who are interested in what you like. You'd be surprised how many opportunities are out there for people who decide to seize them.”
The next time you “Google” someone or something, keep in mind that Matt Cutts is helping make it work.
Grant Stevens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 784-4116.