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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 May 2007, 12:09 GMT 13:09 UK
Personal touch to Google homepage
Woman looking closely at Google image search
Increasingly people want to publish their own content online
Google is reinventing its simple homepage to offer users greater scope for personalisation.

The search giant is introducing features to allow users to publish their own content on a personalised Google homepage.

It represents Google's latest move towards a more user-centric web.

The changes come as Google dismissed Viacom's copyright claims and argued that its litigation threatened the very foundations of social networking.


In its $1bn lawsuit, entertainment giant Viacom alleged that Google-owned video-sharing website YouTube has used around 160,000 unauthorised clips.

In an official response filed with the US District Court in New York, Google argued that the lawsuit threatens the whole social networking eco-system.

"By seeking to make carriers and hosting providers liable for internet communications, Viacom's complaint threatens the way hundreds of millions of people legitimately exchange information, news, entertainment and political and artistic expression," it said.

Google's whole-hearted embracing of social networking was cemented by the release of new features that could see an end to the traditional uncluttered Google homepage.

Under the umbrella term iGoogle, users will be able to share their own writings, photos and lists as well as getting a personalised view of the web based on geographical location and search history.

To encourage users to share their creative work, Google is introducing Gadget Maker, which allows users who do not know how to code to publish content simply.

There will be seven templates that can be used for personalisation, including ones that allow for the publishing of photos, sending virtual greeting cards or creating lists of favourite songs or films.

Google is also giving users the option to tailor their search to their geographic location.

Users who give their home location on Google Maps will receive search results based on that specific location.

"I look at personalised search and I think it is one of the biggest advance we have had in the last couple of years," said Marissa Mayer, Google's vice president of user experience in a news briefing.

According to Ms Mayer, tens of millions of users have signed up for the personalised approach to search since Google introduced it two years ago.

Last week Google introduced a feature that allowed users who have given Google prior permission to store their web surfing patterns to refer back to their personal web history from the last few years.

Personalisation will play a huge part in allowing marketers to target advertisements, but Ms Mayer said that iGoogle will remain non-commercial for the foreseeable future.

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