When you’re explaining something to someone, the dialog often can get into:
If they hadn’t been talking, if had just been a paper, …
So, the ability to click on a HyperLink in a HyperText approximates conversation, in that it lets you ask for clarification on terms or points. If the other end of the link is explanatory, then it works.
This is not to trivialize conversation: There are myriad forms of conversation, (NCDD), and in great conversations, which regularly feature multiple people, ideas flow between people. Conversation is a far greater world, than just one person teaching another person.
Wiki gets a little closer to the open conversation, in that there’s an edit button, and you can actually say something original. You can follow meaningful links until you get to a point of disagreement, and then say something there (ArgumentRouting?.)
MarvinMinsk? used to talk about how, one day, the books in the library may listen, speak, and converse with one another.
Critical update, from the future:
However: Hypertext approximates conversation.
There is a time limit in all conversations. What is not understood w/in N amount of time, is not going to be understood, period.
You can provide links to every single one of your terms, metaphors, and so on, but people still get exhausted in both look up and in conversation.
Explaining has natural limits.
If you gave someone an exhaustive encyclopedia of every single thought you have and how they all inter-relate and inter-connect, you are still not guaranteed a communication.
Is it a wonder that essays work at all? And the role of those who selected the essay is not to be forgotten.