Map Iran SCIn Chicago in 1968, anti-war protesters at the Democratic National Convention chanted “The Whole World Is Watching.”

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They were talking about television cameras that showed police beatings on the evening news. More than 40 years later, with a massive movement aimed at reversing election results and possibly even toppling a regime in Iran, online networking is instantly sharing protesters’ actions.

And the whole world is watching.”That wasn’t true in Chicago,” Clay Shirky, a writer, consultant and New York University instructor who focuses on the social impact of the Internet, said of the slogan. “Now, it’s true.”

The watching isn’t the end of the story — and may not even end up being its most important piece — according to Shirky.

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“Since we don’t know how this ends, the lessons are all provisional at the moment,” he said. “But it seems to me that the biggest potential difference right now is not just that the whole world is watching, but that people from outside — civilians from outside — Iran are trying to actually affect the outcome.”