A Community of Diverse Backgrounds

Cross posted on PHPAppalachia.org.

To me, it’s always very interesting to hear the pre-PHP stories of other PHP programmers – the days before they programmed in PHP, what they did and how they came to call themselves PHP programmers. The stories vary greatly from programmer to programmer, and almost none begin with: “I was working toward a degree in computer science ….” In fact, the more people I talk with, the more I’m convinced that the typical PHP programmer, in fact, sort of got to where they are by an odd arrangement of life circumstances we call coincidences. Almost none elected to be where they are, but nearly all enjoy the work they do, many to a great degree of passion.

Joined by Elizabeth Naramore, Chris Spruck, Randall Bollig, and James Logsdon, we discussed how we all have diverse backgrounds ranging from marine biology to organizational behavior to literature to business to early employment from job offers while in high school. I’ll let the reader decide to whom each background belongs. I think other programming communities do not have such diversity of backgrounds; I could be wrong. Yet, it seems to me that other communities have developers who started with the intention of gaining a Computer Science degree for the purpose of being a programmer. This does not seem to be the case (to me) with much of the PHP community.

Such were the conversations held in my Honda Pilot as we ascended into the Great Smoky Mountains with the intent to reach the summit of Clingman’s Dome. As I pulled into the parking lot near the summit, visibility dropped to near zero as clouds enveloped us. I opened the door to a great blast of icy wind, and though we weren’t exactly dressed for the occassion – we saw a family wearing scarves and toboggans – we proceeded to hike up the half mile trail to the summit. We couldn’t make out much of the way in front of us, so as it began to sprinkle a freezing rain, we made the decision to turn back, not knowing how far from the top we were. We determined this was a good thing, for, even as we were soaked in the rain walking back to the car, it began to hail and sleet with great force once we reached my Pilot.

Rain-soaked and cold, we proceeded down the mountain, nevertheless upbeat and, I think, happy to have shared the adventure with fellow and diverse PHPers.

How did you come to be a PHP programmer?