Soft Coding - Worse Than Failure
I wanted to include this article from Worse Than Failure even though it doesn't seem to apply to automation per se. It does however discuss hard-coding versus soft coding. And in the end drags the big-wet-greasy finger of automation across the line between hard and soft coding. Especially when you have automated your compilers and program distribution. In the end, what's the difference between an end user going in and removing or adding a record to a database that a program uses to create output and a programmer going in and doing the same thing in the source code along with an automated compiling script and executable distribution....I'd say, "Dang little, and a sight more reliable."
Anyway, it's a good read.