Animating the deforestation of the rain forest was the example used in Apple's Knowledge Navigator film from 1987. It is available as part of the ACM CHI 92 Conference Video Program (the " special video " program). There is no substitute for actually watching the video, but you can get at least some idea of the Knowledge Navigator by reading Sculley  and looking at the illustrations in that article.
Still from the Apple Knowledge Navigator video: The user is gesturing to initiate a comparison of a window with animation of the deforestation of the Amazon rain forest with a window with a corresponding animation of the growth of the Sahara desert. Notice "Phil", the agent, in the upper left corner of the screen.
Sculley, J. (1989). The relationship between business and higher education: A perspective on the 21st century. Communications of the ACM 32 , 9 (September), 1056-1061.