Your last question is really two separate questions. "This information" is neither homogeneous nor linear. Silver gelatin photography covers 130 years (and counting) of science, art, and technology. The high-tech end of the timeline is almost certainly safe. Kodak's failure of vision is probably the best thing that could have happened to analog photography. Other companies can finally get their feet in the door. George Eastman was secretive and monopolistic in the extreme. The corporate environment he fostered was semi-loony. Secrets for the sake of secrets. A good example of that mindset can be seen today in the Wikileaks broohaa. Why in the world was most of that junk secret?
Originally Posted by holmburgers
Anyway, Ilford seems committed to silver, and the Eastern European and Chinese companies are really coming into their own. I don't see them going away, at least in the aggregate.
What may be endangered is handcrafted silver gelatin. It was never actually a handmade product for more than about ten years. And here's the important point: It was totally commercial propaganda that convinced photographers that they could no longer make their own materials -- and propaganda became fact. After about 50 years of technological advancement, it was true that the home darkroom could no longer make the same products as Kodak, but that still leaves a lot of great recipes available to us, each with a distinctive beauty and the satisfaction of the handcrafted product.
The next thing here is hard to say, or at least to say without butting heads with a couple of regulars to this forum. If we want to learn to recreate excellent emulsions, those within our technological reach as handcrafters, we absolutely can. But, it will take staying focused and on point. There are only three halides important to photography. Discussing the others, or pretending that understanding their chemistry and physics is even remotely necessary to making an emulsion, is nothing but a meaningless digression. 'Soft core' chemistry is more than good enough to make gorgeous emulsions. I am not a chemist, and I'm printing a portfolio right now that has me proud-to-busting. If you're really interested in making emulsions, please don't be discouraged or deflected by the nay-sayers and pessimists.