Posted 01/19/2021  |  Back

J.J. Sylvia IV, Ph.D., is originally from Long Beach, Mississippi. As a high school student, he was at the forefront of the early weblogging movement and his was one of the first stand-alone blogs to incorporate a commenting feature for individual posts. He also participated avidly in e-wrestling, or fantasy wrestling via email, ranking at one time as one of the top 150 e-wrestlers in the world. During his senior year of high school, he coded and then managed a national e-commerce website for a furniture store.

While he started his academic career at Mississippi State University as an electrical engineering student, J.J. graduated instead with a double major in Philosophy and Communication in 2005. In 2009, he earned an M.A. in Philosophy from The University of Southern Mississippi. After graduating, he worked for an international non-profit organization focused on the use of technology for social good, before going on to complete a Ph.D. in Communication, Rhetoric, and Digital Media at North Carolina State University in 2017. During this time, he and his wife, Lea Shell,
co-founded a company that creates Montessori-inspired wooden educational materials for children, which his wife now runs full-time.  

J.J. joined the Communications Media Department at Fitchburg State University in 2017, where he research and teaching focuses on the philosophy and ethics of communication, with an emphasis on big data and posthuman media studies. His posthuman approach explores how the media and technology that we use shapes our creation as subjects and the ways we understand the world. In addition to publishing articles and book chapters, he has also developed digital projects that explore these themes. An open data project, titled Aperveillance, visualizes the forms of surveillance possible through open data, while the augmented reality project, Becoming Data, offers an interactive experience that demonstrates how one’s data is collected and then used in ways that are often opaque and harmful.

Book cover for Handbook of Research on Deception, Fake News, and Misinformation OnlineCheck out J.J.'s chapter False Information Narratives: The IRA's 2016 Presidential Election Facebook Campaign, co-written with his Comm Media colleague, Dr. Kyle Moody, from the Handbook of Research on Deception, Fake News, and Misinformation Online edited by I. Chiluwa, and S. A Samoilenko. To see a more complete listing of J.J.'s work please visit is Publications page at

J.J. currently lives in Worcester, MA with Lea and their daughters Athena and Cora. His hobbies include family genealogy, stewarding a Little Free Library, traveling, and running, hiking, camping, or otherwise exploring New England.