Profile on Jo Guldi


Jo Guldi is an assistant professor of history at Brown University. She will be giving a talk today (November 7 2013) at 5:30 p.m. in the DSL called: Can Participatory Maps Save the World? 

Guldi was born in Dallas, Texas. Her academic adventures took her to Harvard where she received her AB. From there she went on to study at Trinity College (Cambridge) and at the University of California-Berkeley. It was at UC Berkeley where she completed her PhD in History. From there she earned postdocs at the University of Chicago and Harvard Society of Fellows.

Jo Guldi is interested in the history of capitalism, land use, and computational tools that can visualize large amounts of text. One such tool is Paper Machines, an open-source extension for Zotero, that she created with Christopher Johnson-Roberson. This tool was designed to help scholars parse through large sets of information while taking advantage of current work in computer science, topic modeling, and visualization. At the conceptual level, Paper Machines is meant to offer a better way for people to examine text and information.

In 2011, Guldi published Roads to Power (Harvard University Press) which tells the story Britain building the first nation connected by infrastructure and technology and how these advances caused strangers to stop speaking to one another on the public street.

Here is a glimpse of what people said about Guldi’s Roads to Power:

Tim O’Reilly (of O’Reilly Media):

Required for those who aim to shape the 21st century.

Rosalind Williams (of MIT):

[T]his book provides an original, lucid, and exceptionally well-written study of an important episode in the modern co-evolution of transportation infrastructure and government power.

At the moment, Guldi is at work on her next project, The Long Land War, which tells the story of the global Land Reform movement since 1860 as well as the most important utopian movement that no one has heard of.


Jo Guldi’s talk Can Participatory Maps Save the World? is a part of the Digital Scholarship Lab’s Fall Series, 2013.