PHP and MySQL are this generation’s BASIC.
BASIC has become the leading cause of brain-damage in proto-hackers. This is another case (like Pascal) of the cascading lossage that happens when a language deliberately designed as an educational toy gets taken too seriously. A novice can write short BASIC programs (on the order of 10-20 lines) very easily; writing anything longer is (a) very painful, and (b) encourages bad habits that will make it harder to use more powerful languages well. This wouldn’t be so bad if historical accidents hadn’t made BASIC so common on low-end micros. As it is, it ruins thousands of potential wizards a year.
Replace BASIC with PHP or MySQL and you’ve got today’s most common programmer. Worse, the most common programs in existence today mix the two in a brain-freezing mixture of stupidity.
I think the success of PHP and MySQL is easily seen in systems like WordPress. Its lead developer, Matt Mullenweg said recently in an interview that part of its success is that it can be installed on any cheap-ass hosting – something that cannot be said for systems like Zope, Django and Ruby on Rails – as time progresses, I think we’ll see Rails being deployed more and more on such hosting, but for the languages that aren’t tomorrow’s poster children, their success will be limited not by their technical merit, but by their ease of deployment by virtually anyone on any hosting.