Empire Avenue, the social media exchange that allows you to buy and sell shares with just about anyone with a Twitter or Facebook account, almost entered the world under the name "Bond Street," but for the fact the URL was already reserved. How that early decision on metaphor influenced the unfolding of a site now populated with global brands and hundreds of social media's most aggressive oversharers is worth a little reflection.

One of the first blogs devoted to the site was "Empire Building," advancing the rhetorical framework that has driven site growth since public launch last summer. At its core, Empire Avenue is about buying and selling shares in social media entities, be they people, brands or blogs. But its layers of complexity have fueled furious on-site engagement by three types of people: social sharers, influencers and gamers. And each of these types is clearly empire building, through community, activism and networking, gaming, and a mix of these behaviors.

My Personal Empire

Here's a snapshot of how my personal empire has evolved over the past year: