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Sociocultural vocabulary is shown to have become increasingly visible within psychology publications since the early 1990s. It is suggested that this form of theorizing has been particularly influential within the literature of the new learning sciences. Yet the meaning of concepts imported from cultural psychology needs careful scrutiny: particularly when deriving implications about how best to design actual resources and contexts for learning. The problems arising from nuances of meaning are discussed here in relation to terms such as 'tools', 'community' and 'situated'. It is suggested that the significance of such terms should be considered against the genetic background that a cultural perspective also promotes. The central sociocultural concept of 'practice' is shown to be helpful particularly for interpreting the sometimes disappointing outcome of learning interventions involving new technology.