July 25 2011 - RiceLoop.com – a new online forum connecting the global rice industry

8/9/2011 9:38:00 PM

Originally posted July 25, 2011 by Natalie Hummel on Louisiana Rice Insects

A couple of weeks ago Steve Linscombe sent me an e-mail about www.riceloop.com – a new online forum for the international rice industry. Last Wednesday, I took some time to check out www.riceloop.com. In a few short moments, I set up my account. This is a very simple, painless process (see below for step-by-step instructions). When I set up my profile, this is the description I submitted to describe myself: “Associate Professor/Extension Entomologist at LSU AgCenter in Baton Rouge. IPM for rice, sugarcane, fruit and nut crops. Runner, biker, nature-lover. You can follow me on twitter: @NatHummel. I also maintain a blog: www.louisianariceinsects.wordpress”. To test the waters I posted one comment “Hey Rice Community – is anyone out there using blogging or social media to interact with their rice producers?” Within 12 hours I had five comments from three different people. Now, if you’ve used any online forums or other forms of social media you’ll realize right off that five responses in such a short time indicates an engaged, active community. I was curious to learn more, so I dug into the site.

One of the first responses to my post was from Nelson M. – a riceloop member from Brazil who wrote, “Thanks, Natalie. I appreciate your work and I am an avid reader of research done at LSU.” This is a pretty exciting start to a dialog for someone who often posts in the online world – it often feels like information is being cast into a “black hole”. Here I was learning first hand that the rice industry in Brazil is reading the blog. Exciting news!

I was also warmly welcomed by Kevin Ries from Largo, Florida – his description read: Rice Futures Trader/Analyst. Was one of the original rice futures traders at the New Orleans Commodity Exchange then traded in the rice futures pit in Chicago for nearly 20 years. Another member, Milo H. Both also welcomed me to the riceloop community.

On Thursday morning, I received an e-mail from Kevin Ries requesting that I give him a call to discuss riceloop. I had a few moments between meetings and so I gave him a call. The story of riceloop is so fascinating that I thought I’d share it with y’all. Kevin is a rice futures trader/analyst. He started working in Louisiana, then moved on to trade in Chicago, before he ultimately created firstgrain.com with his partner Milo Hamilton. Kevin has found that rice, while being one of the most important food grains in the world, is produced and distributed by a population that is cast across the globe is often disconnected. He wanted to find a way to connect people across great distances. He wondered, can I create a way to easily connect rice farmers from Vietnam with those from Louisiana? What Kevin is trying to accomplish with www.riceloop.com is to create a “flat earth” for communication about what’s happening in the rice industry worldwide.

Kevin quoted some impressive stats to me. RiceLoop launched on July 10, 2011. Within 10 days it had more than 150 members from 16 different countries. The loop is successfully linking rice industry folks via an easy-to-use online forum. Kevin is very open to ideas to improve the structure and useability of the page. After our conversation I explored it a little more and sent him some ideas. The success of this project will rely on the amount of participation from all aspects of the industry, across the globe, it’s a resource that is free for us to use to dialog about rice. I encourage you to check it out. I sent out notices via facebook and twitter and am pleased to see that about a dozen people from Louisiana have joined in the past week.

Here’s how it works.

1. Go to www.riceloop.com
2. Create an account. You have an option to upload a picture of yourself from your hard-drive, indicate your location (Country, State, and/or City), your industry type, and a little bit about you.
3. Check out the public loop – this is the place where people post questions/comments/observations related to rice production/marketing/trade.
4. Reply to posts in the public loop by leaving a comment – you simply hit the “leave a comment” button and start typing.
5. You will receive an e-mail if someone replies to your post.
6. You can track posts created by other people. If you do this you’ll receive an e-mail if someone replies to the post – this allows you to track the conversation about a particular topic.
7. You can create a “private loop” which can be used to communicate with a select group of people you have invited to join in your “private loop”.
8. You can also find members by searching geographically or by industry type.
9. One additional feature includes the ability to send direct messages to riceloop members – this allows you to have more detailed conversations off the forum page, if needed.

I’m curious to know what you all think about this new communication tool. Are you using www.riceloop.com? What are your thoughts on this type of resource? Do you have any suggestions for improving the format/user-interface?

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