Inside People

updated 12/19/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/19/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

NO DOUBT YOU'VE NOTICED there's a whole new world out there. In just a few short years, technologies such as CD-ROM have become child's play, and the Internet, which started out as the vision of a handful of computer jocks, has turned into the town pump of the '90s, where more than 20 million users worldwide click into a vast multimedia network abuzz with news, information, gossip and chitchat. As always, if people are talking, PEOPLE is there. Getting a jump on our arrival in January on the CompuServe network, where users will be able to interact with PEOPLE staffers and celebrity guests, in this issue we are marking the debut of Cyberchat, a new column (on page 35) devoted to the juiciest gossip and most entertaining celebrity tidbits to be gleaned from travels in this alternate landscape. "Everyone from Woody Allen and Peter Gabriel to Marlon Brando and Larry King is cruising the Internet," reports associate editor J.D. Reed, who, with consulting editor Peter Herbst and assistant picture editor Suzanne Cheruk, will produce each column. Reed, who wrote lifestyle and entertainment stories for 10 years at TIME before coming to PEOPLE in 1990, says, "Celebs are going on-line and having tele-press conferences, talking to their fans and answering questions. This is just another way for us to cover the stars for our readers. We're not trying to get anyone into computing." Tell it to Reed's wife and three daughters, with whom he must compete for an hour or so of on-line time each evening. Herbst commiserates. An avid networker, he joined us in April after stints at Rolling Stone and New York magazine and swears by his Apple Powerbook. "I think of it as an indispensable tool for information," says Herbst, who enjoys navigating the myriad worlds of the computer game Myst with his two young sons. "But like every parent," he says, "I still don't know as much as my 5-year-old."

This week's issue marks another passage as well—the sad and untimely death of Elizabeth Glaser, 47, from AIDS (see story on page 46). Glaser, wife of actor-director Paul Michael Glaser, shared her family's private struggle with the disease—which six years ago also claimed the life of her 7-year-old daughter, Ariel—in her book, In the Absence of Angels, excerpted in our Feb. 4,1991, issue. But our relationship didn't end there. Moved by her courage and determination, PEOPLE two years later became an underwriter of the annual A Time for Heroes picnic hosted in Los Angeles by the Pediatric AIDS Foundation, the nonprofit research organization Glaser helped found in 1988. "She really embraced PEOPLE because she understood the value of getting her story out to a broad audience," says PEOPLE president Ann S. Moore. "She was a natural born leader and incredibly brilliant."

Next summer, the magazine will once again participate in the Pediatric AIDS picnic. For although Glaser has lost her battle, the fight against the epidemic that claimed her life and that of a projected 40,000 other Americans this year must go on. "Our goal won't be realized until we're saving lives," Glaser said. "AIDS impacts all people. It's a problem of humanity."

If you would like to help find a solution, contributions may be sent to the Pediatric AIDS Foundation, 1311 Colorado Ave., Santa Monica, Calif. 90404.

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