Well, what the firmware modders are doing, are extracting, modifying and replacing those files - so I suppose you could do the same thing if you so chose. I mean, you could modify the assets, even the sprx's etc to customize your own PS3. However, one wrong move and you could end up with a brick - so be very careful!
I'm not scared of bricking my console, i would just buy another. I have 10 years of experience developing and 7 of those as a sys admin. I have poke around the PS3 for a long time and finally have some gaps in my schedule to do some research and would love to pick into the firmware.
So... if someone can point me in the right direction on how to extract those files that would be great.