I didn't mean to give the impression that I was questioning your' attributing dry-down to emulsion shrinkage. It certainly makes sense and I accept this as an interesting piece of photographic knowledge. However it got me thinking, (a dangerous thing to do). I was wondering about the "damp down" effect in which a print will display tones while merely damp that aren't seen, in the same light, while floating in the fixer or water bath. I used to keep a slanted plastic board and a squeegee in my darkroom where I could place a wet print or test strip and wipe off the surface water in order to make a better judgement of where to go with it. You still have to make your compensations for further dry down but at least it will allow you to see whether you have achieved a delicate tone adjacent to a paper White.
I will read the Barnbaum article and your commentary with great interest. Thanks.