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Regional integration among people (or at least those who use Facebook)

We’re playing around with some ideas about connectedness. We want to use big data to see what real (as opposed to administratively mandated) communities are. Using Facebook’s analytics page, did some surface analysis of SAARC and ASEAN.

It is very clear that India is the center of SAARC, being the country that most Bhutanese have friends in (value of 5 given) and the country with the second-largest number of friends for Bangladeshis, Maldivians, Nepalese, Pakistanis and Sri Lankans (value of 4). I guess the only surprise there is Pakistan. India’s total value is 25.

Pakistanis are the second most popular, gaining first places from both Afghanistan and Bangladesh, a second place from Indians, for a total of 14.

Next is Bangladesh with a third place from Pakistanis, a fourth place from Indians and a fifth place from Maldives, for a total of 6.

Nepal is the second most popular among Indian Facebook users; and fourth most popular among Bhutanese. Total value is 5.

Sri Lanka is in the top five only for Maldives, being the most popular among the Maldivians. Value is 5.

The three big (150 million-1.2 billion population) countries are understandably at the center of SAARC. Sri Lanka being less integrated into SAARC than Nepal is noteworthy.

We think ASEAN is a lot more integrated than SAARC (it is, in trade terms).

Yet the picture is different among Facebook users.

Singapore is the center of ASEAN, most popular among Malaysians and Myanmarese; second most popular among Vietnamese; third most popular among Bruneians, Filipinos and Thais; and fourth most popular among Cambodians and Indonesians. The total value is 27 from a larger number of countries, suggesting a lower degree of centrality than India.

The second most popular are Malaysians. They are the most popular among Bruneians and Singaporeans. Second with Myanmarese; third with Indonesians and fifth with Thais. Total value is 18.

Thailand comes third, with a total of 10. It is second most popular among Laotians and third most popular among Cambodians and Myanmarese.

Indonesia is last behind even Laos. It gets only a fifth place from Brunei.

The top three are old ASEAN members. Singapore with its small population managing to achieve centrality is noteworthy. The marginality of the largest of the ASEAN countries, Indonesia is equally noteworthy.

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