No, it's not.
How many people connect through social networks
That's roughly quantifiable. FB has roughly 1.15 billion users, not sure of its daily use stats. Some numbers: http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/resource-how-many-peo...
which is an obvious benefit
Now _there_ is a questionable assumption. Given that increasing numbers of people are _leaving_ FB in saturated markets, and peak membership seems to top below 50% of the population, there seems to be a limit. And I could turn up studies showing negative effects of social networking / media saturation ranging from social isolation and depression to broken marriages and lost jobs to health and life-expectancy loss due to inactivity.
How many people benefit from research papers about 3d model generation from photographs?
First: a false equivalence and shifting goalposts. Your initial claim was "most of the academic research".
Secondly: academic research covers a huge range of areas, from improved health and diet to better machines and alternative energy sources to faster and more accurate computer algorithms.
Third: what you see as a useless toy has some pretty evident applications that I can consider. Attach this method to a 3d CAD/CAM or printing system and you have manufacturing or parts replacement from a 2D photograph (AutoDesk has demonstrated similar modeling/capture systems but based on multiple images, but these can come from any camera). Art interpretation, archaeology, X-Ray modeling, geological imaging, and astronomical applications come to mind. There might be applications in protein folding or other microscopic imaging applications.
And the beneficiaries of such technolgies could extend far beyond just those who are currently plugged in.
Blindly claiming social media vastly exceeds the value of such research fails to pass the most casual of sniff tests.
Your analysis focuses only on Facebook. Of course people are leaving Facebook. But is the total user population of all social networking apps decreasing? I doubt it.
> First: a false equivalence and shifting goalposts. Your initial claim was "most of the academic research".
Poor phrasing on my part. My original goalpost was "the academic research like this," which is admittedly vague. What I meant was research projects focused on image processing and interpretation.
> Third: what you see as a useless toy has some pretty evident applications that I can consider.
I don't see it as a useless toy. I just think it's far less useful than social networking services, which have a very practical obvious benefit.
> Blindly claiming social media vastly exceeds the value of such research fails to pass the most casual of sniff tests.
It's not a blind claim, it's what I feel is an extremely obvious claim.
It's reasonable to question ALL assumptions.
Your analysis focuses only on Facebook.
No it doesn't. I pointed at FB as the largest of the present SNs, but referenced other SNs as well. FB is a leading exemplar of the field. My use of it isn't intended as exlusionary of other SNs.
My original goalpost was "the academic research like this,"
Which largely moots the rest of the argument. Though as I pointed out, "research such as this" actually does pose some reasonably interesting and useful applications. We can argue over those magnitudes, but I'll stick with my initial assessment that the net benefits of such research are likely to be high.
Also, but narrowly identifying what you feel is and isn't valuable research, you're sharply skewing the results to your favor. It's as if I said "but I meant by 'social media' 4Chan and HotOrNot".
it's what I feel is an extremely obvious claim.
And it's what I feel requires citation.
Which you've failed to provide, being rather more inclined to engage in rhetoric.