I just fielded a “what is transliteracy?” question and found the following example helpful:
Wait, did you just click on the words “following example”? Why the heck would you do that? Doesn’t “following example” imply that there’s something after the end of the sentence? What’s the matter with you!?
Or, maybe, as a person literate with respect to hypertext, you realized that a few words in bold, orange type are probably a hyper-link to some external content. In a printed document, I would have to introduce the example via a colon, and then go on to describe an example of transliteracy. In a blog post, I can rely on my readers’ understanding that the example I want to stress is behind the hyper-link…and I don’t even need to say “Click Here” the way we used to.
Much as footnotes and indices are integral to reading in print, clicking hyper-links becomes an integral part of the reading process when online. The humble hyper-link has changed the way we read. But, what’s really interesting is that we don’t start tapping on bold-faced words in our print books. Whatever cognitive abilities allow us to effortlessly read, write, and communicate in these different spheres of literacy, these are the cognitive abilities that underlie transliteracy. The same holds true when we start analyzing more complex elements of competing literacies; things like hashtags, search algorithms, databases, annotated images, wikis, and beyond.
So, if you clicked on the following example without thinking, you acted under the auspices of transliteracy. If you had no idea that I wanted you to click there, well, now you know about embedded hyper-links.