A hot-take brain-dump:
Seems like two aspects: What and how. (The serialization format and
the communication method.)
What: The correct answer is s-expressions. :) Maybe EDN. OK, OK. A
more agnostic answer is JSON -- it has flaws, but it's widely
supported among languages, and "everything is a dictionary" is a
decent first approximation for many things. If people think plain
text is a problem not a feature, (a) they're wrong :) but (b) there
are things like BSON and Protocol Buffers as David mentioned.
How: For things that fit a request/response model, HTTP has already
figured out a lot of stuff you might not want to. Also keep in mind it
even supports things like partial random-access (Range headers) and
memoization (ETags). If request/response isn't a good fit, there's
also RFC 6455 aka WebSockets?
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