People can only consciously work with a limited number of concepts at any time. Short-term memory, which is what you use when solving an intellectual problem, only holds six or seven items. Thus to solve a complex problem with many variables, we divide the problem into at most six chunks and build the solution with those chunks as building blocks. Each chunk is a partial problem, that has to be solved in turn, but it may be that we can delegate it to others. When the chunks are small enough to be assigned catchy names we call them "modules."

How do you know that you have divided the problem into the right chunks? Basically by trial and error, although we have some intuitions mostly based on our language skills.

When defining modules, we try to find "logical units," things that appear to belong together. It has nothing to do with logic, but with our ability to group those things under a common nomer. Because, if we can name a group with a short name, it probably means it is a known problem. Essentially we rely on metaphors, because we get the names from other problem areas. Thus we have "passwords," "style sheets," "firewalls," "protocols" and of course "Web" (some metaphors are better than others...)

Occasionally a module turns out to be a possible chunk in another problem. Thus the syntax and selector modules of CSS3 found use in the the STTS document transformation language and PNG found application as the format for cursors and bitmaps in SVG. Some document languages use a lot of HTML, but it is debatable whether to call that the usage of a large number of very small HTML modules, or simply a variant of HTML. Probably the latter, since their functionality overlaps so much with HTML that they often sin against the principle of minimum redundancy.