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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Google and Facebook join MyData as one of the ways to login to ICPSR

After an unexpected delay we finally rolled out two new ways to authenticate to the ICPSR web site.  In addition to using the original ICPSR MyData account, web site visitors may now use either their Facebook account or Google ID to login to the ICPSR web site.

We wanted to make this type of service available because it is clear that most of our web site visitors who download data use it just once, or only infrequently.  And so for every researcher or scholar that uses ICPSR on a regular basis, there are two casual users who just want to download a dataset as quickly and easily as possible.

For this latter audience MyData doesn't make sense.  Why create a new account with a new password for something that may never be used again?

Now, people who would like to use their Facebook account or Google ID to identify themselves may do so.  And, better still, if the person is already logged into either service, they do not have to login again to ICPSR.  (This is often called SSO for Single Sign-On.)

We also looked at supporting the OpenID service, but our experience was that OpenIDs were a little too confusing for people.  The idea that one's identity is a URL rather than an email address is less common, and it felt too foreign to most people.

We hope the new login options are useful, and make it even easier to use ICPSR.

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