This week we welcome James Bennett as our PyDev of the Week! James is one of the core developers of the Django web framework. He is also on the Board of Directors of the Django Software Foundation. James maintains a blog and has several fun projects over on Github that are worth checking out. Now let’s take some time to get to know our fellow Pythoneer better!
Can you tell us a little about yourself (hobbies, education, etc):
I did my degree in philosophy, at a little liberal-arts college in Virginia. It wasn’t until I was in college that I had regular access to a computer or the internet, and I I taught myself HTML one weekend because a professor offered the choice between writing a 20-page paper or building a 5-page website to present some research, and I was lazy. Then people started paying me to do sites for them (it was the 90s, when people found out you knew HTML they’d do that!), and things just kind of proceeded from there. I never did take any CS courses, but I did learn DocBook and LaTeX when deciding how to typeset my thesis.
After college I bounced around a bit, worked an office job for a while to build up some savings, then started doing full-time contract work as a web developer. Later, I tried and fell in love with Django shortly after it was initially released which led to moving to Kansas and working at the company which originally developed Django. While I worked there, I picked up a commit bit and became the release manager. After five years there I went to Mozilla, where I spent four years as a member of the team building the Mozilla Developer Network platform.
These days I live in the San Francisco Bay area and work at Clover Health, where we’re trying to make health insurance a whole lot better. I also keep a blog where I occasionally write about Django, Python, or whatever else is on my mind.
My unbearably nerdy non-tech hobby is Magic: The Gathering, which came out originally when I was in middle school. I’ve played it off and on since then, and for the past seven years I’ve also worked as a tournament official on the semi-professional and professional circuits (yes, there are professional tournaments). I’ve met a lot of cool people through that, and gotten to travel quite a bit; once, for one of the top-tier pro tournaments I got a free trip to Hawaii, since that was where it was held.
The amount of travel I ended up doing between that and tech conferences and (until 2015) being a remote employee also got me sort of inevitably into being a bit of an aviation geek and knowing more than is good for me about planes, airports and frequent-flyer programs.
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