CSS is supposedly used to increase accessability but every time I mention that CSS Zen Garden has many poor examples of usability and accessability, I get the same reply "It's about what can be done, not about what should be done." People learn by looking at reference sites and if what they see is static div sizes, multiple nested divs, poorly contrasted link/text to backgrounds, header images that take up 1/3 of the "above the fold" space, funky navigation schemes, then that's what they're going to emulate.
Which is more intuitive for the typical internet user? Resizing their own browser window, or disabling CSS, or finding an extension to their browser that allows them to edit the CSS and then editing the CSS for each div on each page that is setting static div widths? Why bother using CSS at all?
Just because "others" have a "belief" that long text lines are bad for me, that doesn't make it true. A web designer has no idea how a user is using their browser window. I may have toolbars open vertically or horizontally, I may have multiple windows open and arranged side by side. I may be sitting close to my monitor, I may be several feet away. I may be using a Blackberry.
Every site design that strives for usability and accessibility is a compromise. A compromise between the needs of the many vs the needs of a few. Many of those compromises are based on assumptions. The text line width issue is one of those untested assumptions.
I have found Reading Text Online
but note that when that study was done there weren't very many large monitors in use. Also note how the preferences change when scrolling is factored in.
The last time this site, Good Documents
, was edited was 1998-99 but I've found that following it's recommendations continue to be very useful.