A girl playing with toys
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Why are we fascinated by Rube Goldberg contraptions?

10 December 2013 Last updated at 00:59 GMT

You may not know the name Rube Goldberg but you have almost certainly seen a contraption inspired by his ideas.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist created outlandishly complicated mechanisms to perform relatively simple tasks - an approach also made famous by Heath Robinson in the UK.

The contraptions have captivated people for decades and now businesses selling everything from children's toys to dog food are using them to appeal to the internet generation.

The BBC's Jane O'Brien asks why in today's dizzying digital world, where technology is hidden within smart phones and tablets, we yearn to see how things work.

Produced by the BBC's Franz Strasser and Debbie Siegelbaum

Living Online is a series of video features published every Tuesday on the BBC News website which look at how technology converges with culture and all aspects of our daily lives.